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The   Life   Story  of 
Sir  Charles  Tilston   Bright 


Knighted  September  4th,  1858,  for  laying  the  First  Atlantic  Cable— age  26. 

The   Life    Story 


Sir  Charles  Tilston  Bright 















History,  Construction  and  Working. 



For   particulars    and   Press    Opinions,    see 
end  of  this  volume. 




TN  response  to  a  number  of  suggestions  and  in  view 
•*•  of  the  present  year  being  the  Fiftieth  Anniversary 
of  the  Atlantic  Cable,  this  abridgement  of  the  original 
biography  x  has  been  prepared  by  the  author. 

Whilst  the  present  volume  cannot  profess  to  deal  in  the 
same  complete  manner  with  the  pioneering  of  Submarine 
Telegraphy  in  general,  it  covers — in  a  compressed  form 
—the  entire  scope  of  its  subject  as  set  forth  in  full  on  the 

The  Appendices  to  the  two  previous  volumes— mainly 
covering  Sir  Charles  Bright's  scientific  and  engineering 
papers,  addresses,  official  reports,  and  inventions — are 
omitted  here,  with  the  exception  of  that  dealing  with  his 
inventions.  This  also  applies  in  a  measure  to  the  contem- 
poraneous doings  of  others  in  the  same  field.  Even  now, 
however,  being  to  some  extent  an  historical  work  of  refer- 
ence, the  author  has  to  plead  indulgence  for  occasional 
repetitions  under  different  chapters  and  headings. 

1  The  Life-Story  of  the  late  Sir  Charles  Tilston  Bright,  Civil  Engi- 
neer, with  which  is  incorporated  the  Story  of  the  Atlantic  Cable  and 
the  first  Telegraph  to  India  and  the  Colonies.  By  his  brother, 
Edward  Brailsford  Bright,  and  his  son,  Charles  Bright,  F.R.S.E. 
(London  :  Archibald  Constable  &  Co.,  1898.  £3  35.  net.) 


viii  PREFACE 

It  only  remains  to  be  said  that  this  biography  is  based 
on  original  and  official  documents,  mostly  in  the  author's 
possession.  Special  care  has  been  bestowed  on  the  Index 
to  enable  the  reader  to  readily  follow  the  sequence  of 
events  in  regard  to  the  history  of  telegraphy — under  the 
various  subject  headings— or  the  main  features  of  the  life 
dealt  with. 

December,  1908. 


r  I  ^HE  exploits,  inventions,  and  scientific  achievements 
•^  are  here  chronicled  of  one  who,  when  in  his  seven- 
teenth year,  devised  his  first  invention,  since  in  active  use  ; 
when  a  youth  of  nineteen,  carried  out  important  telegraph 
work,  including  the  laying  of  a  complete  system  of  wires, 
under  the  streets  of  Manchester  in  a  single  night — with- 
out incurring  any  disturbance  to  the  traffic  ;  when  twenty 
became  Chief  Engineer  to  the  Magnetic  Telegraph  Com- 
pany, extending  its  lines  throughout  the  United  King- 
dom ;  and  who,  a  year  later,  in  establishing  telegraphic 
communication  between  Great  Britain  and  Ireland,  was — 
to  quote  the  late  Lord  Kelvin  — "  the  first  to  lay  a 
cable  in  deep  water." 

When  but  twenty  years  of  age  the  subject  of  this  Memoir 
had  patented  as  many  as  twenty-four  distinct  inventions 
—which  he  had  been  elaborating  during  the  three  pre- 
ceding years.  This  was  at  precisely  the  same  period  of 
life  as  that  at  which  one  of  the  most  prolific  inventors, 
Mr.  Edison,  took  out  his  first  patent  ;  and  many  of  young 
Bright's  early  inventions  are  still  in  use  and  essential  to 
present-day  telegraphy.  Altogether  he  brought  out  no 



less  than  119  separate  inventions,  and  a  large  proportion 
of  these  proved  of  general  utility.1 

When  twenty-three,  Bright  became  a  projector  of  the 
Atlantic  Telegraph,  to  which,  a  year  later,  he  was  ap- 
pointed Engineer-in-Chief.  After  a  series  of  almost  in- 
surmountable difficulties,  he,  in  1858— and  contrary  to 
expert  opinion— successfully  laid  the  first  cable  between 
Ireland  and  America,  at  the  age  of  twenty-six, 
thereby  telegraphically  uniting  two  great  continents.  It 
had  been  said  by  many  who  had  watched  his  energy 
and  talent  in  early  days,  that  honours  were  in  store  for 
him.  The  prediction  was  verified.  He  became  the  youngest 
knight  in  that  same  year,  for  what  was  at  the  time  very 
justly  described  as  "  the  great  scientific  achievement  of 
the  century."  It  may,  perhaps,  be  added  that  in-  those 
days  a  knighthood  signified  more  than  it  does  now,  if  only 
because  it  was  an  honour  comparatively  closely  confined  to 
men  who  had  achieved  something  for  their  country— 
rather  than  for  services  to  party  politics. 

In  his  Presidential  Address  to  the  Institution  of  Elec- 
trical Engineers,  in  1889,  Lord  Kelvin  (then  Sir  William 
Thomson)  said  in  regard  to  the  above  undertaking  : 
'  To  Sir  C.  Bright 's  vigour,  earnestness,  and  enthusiasm 
was  due  the  successful  laying  of  the  cable.  We  must 

1  Those  in  constant  use  to-day  comprise  :  (i)  The  insulator 
and  shackle  for  aerial  telegraphs.  (2)  The  acoustic  bell  telegraph 
instrument.  (3)  The  means  of  finding  out  the  position  of  a  fault 
in  a  submarine  cable,  or  subterranean  wires,  by  an  alternative 
circuit  of  varying  resistance  coils.  (4)  The  protection  of  sub- 
marine cable  cores  with  ribands  of  metal  wound  spirally  and 
overlapping.  (5)  The  cable  compound,  and  method  of  application. 


always  feel  deeply  indebted  to  our  late  colleague  as  the 
pioneer  of  that  great  work,  when  other  engineers  would 
not  look  at  it,  and  thought  it  absolutely  impracticable."  l 
Again,  when,  as  President  of  the  same  Institution  in 
1897,  Sir  Henry  Mance,  C.I.E.,  M.Inst.C.E.,  delivered  his 
address,  he  expressed  himself  in  these  terms  with  reference 
to  the  aforesaid  topic  :  "  If  we,  as  engineers,  desire  to  do 
honour  to  any  one  individual  who  pre-eminently  distin- 
guished himself  in  the  development  of  oceanic  telegraphy, 
we  have  simply  to  refer  to  the  list  of  our  Past -Presidents, 
and  select  the  name  of  Charles  Tilston  Bright." 

In  this  connection,  Bright 's  youthful  talent  has  been 
spoken  of  as  scarcely  second  to  that  of  William  Pitt. 
His  mind  was  essentially  an  inventive  one  ;  but  he  was 
equally  a  man  of  action.  It  was,  probably,  the  union  of 
these  two  qualities  which  enabled  him  to  overcome  the 
difficulties  encountered  in  laying  the  First  Atlantic  Cable. 

Afterwards  carrying  out  many  important  submarine  cable 
undertakings  in  the  Mediterranean  and  elsewhere — in- 
cluding the  first  telegraph  to  India,  and  between  the  West 
Indian  Islands — he  also  took  an  active  part  in  politics, 
and  was  elected  a  Member  of  Parliament  at  the  age  of 
thirty-three.  Whilst  in  the  House  of  Commons  he  was 

1  Fortunately  we  are  soon  to  have  a  biography  worthy  of  the 
late  Lord  Kelvin,  written  by  so  distinguished  an  author  as  Dr. 
Silvanus  Thompson,  F.R.S.  ;  and  here  will  be  provided  a  suitable 
record  of  his  lordship's  marvellous — indeed,  unrivalled — contribu- 
tion to  the  theory  and  practice  of  submarine  telegraphy.  As  is 
now  fairly  well  recognised,  it  was  Lord  Kelvin's  mathematical  and 
inventive  skill  in  the  electrical  working  of  ocean  cables  which  put 
them  on  a  sound  commercial  footing. 


constantly  to  the  fore  in  advocating  the  extension  of  tele- 
graphic communication  with  our  Colonies  and  Dependencies, 
besides  serving  on  more  than  one  Committee  with  similar 
objects  in  view. 

Bright  also  acted  as  expert  adviser  and  consulting 
engineer  to  a  large  number  of  projects— for  the  second  and 
third  Atlantic  Cables  and  for  a  variety  of  subsequent  sub- 
marine lines,  as  well  as  other  engineering  enterprises. 

He  continued  his  career  of  practical  work  and  invention 
in  electric  lighting  as  well  as  telegraphy,  until  his  death 
in  1888.  His  engineering  association  with  the  former  was 
never,  however,  of  the  same  leading  character  as  was  the 
case  in  regard  to  telegraphy.  It  was,  indeed,  quite 
secondary  in  this  country  to  that  of  Siemens,  Hopkinson, 
Crompton,  Ferranti,  Kennedy,  Swinburne,  and  Mordey. 

The  closing  event  of  his  life  was  that  of  becoming 
President  of  the  Society  of  Telegraph  Engineers  and 
Electricians  (now  the  Institution  of  Electrical  Engineers) 
during  the  Electric  Telegraph  Jubilee  of  1887. 

Bright  was  amongst  the  foremost  to  take  an  active  in- 
terest in  the  Volunteer  movement,  and  when  set  afoot 
became  Captain  of  one  of  the  first  corps. 

In  his  home  he  was  a  genial  host,  who  gathered 
many  friends  around  him,  and  entered  keenly  into  all 

His  was  in  every  sense  a  full  life — full  of  endeavour, 
and  full  of  achievement.  A  man  of  wide  sympathies,  he 
was,  indeed,  capable  of  throwing  himself  with  enthusiasm 
into  everything  he  took  up ;  and  here,  perhaps,  lies  the 
secret  of  his  usefulness. 


There  are  not  many  cases  in  which  so  much  ground  has 
been  covered  in  so  short  a  time  and  at  so  early  a  period 
of  life.  Indeed,  in  its  leading  article  on  the  occasion  of 
his  death,  The  Times  remarked  :  "  If  a  man's  life  may  be 
measured  by  the  amount  he  has  accomplished,  Sir  Charles 
Bright  lived  long,  though  dying  at  the  comparatively  early 
age  of  fifty-five.  Few  men  have  ever  done  more  useful 
work  for  his  country  and  for  commerce  within  less  than 
forty  years."  A  study  of  The  Dictionary  of  National 
Biography,  Men  of  the  Reign,  or  Men  of  the  Time,  corro- 
borates this  view. 

There  is  probably  no  branch  of  engineering  which  lends 
itself  so  readily  to  a  full  sight  of  the  world  as  that  of 
telegraphy.  Thus,  the  present  volume  is  centred  in 
many  climes,  and  partly  consists  of  stirring  narratives  of 
adventure — suggestive  of  romance  rather  than  the  plain 
story  of  a  man  of  science.  It  is  thought,  therefore,  that 
these  pages  will  appeal  to  the  general  reader— only  in  a 
lesser  degree  than  to  the  engineer,  student,  and  historian. 
Apart  from  his  profession,  indeed — in  his  varied  tastes, 
sympathies,  and  recreations — Sir  Charles  was  as  much  the 
traveller  as  the  scientist  ;  and  even  when  engaged  on  most 
trying  cable  ventures  in  unhealthy  climates  he  invariably 
kept  neatly  written  records  of  the  day's  performance — of 
what  he  had  seen  and  learnt — never  retiring  to  bed  with- 
out attending  to  his  task.  In  the  chapter  dealing  with 
the  West  Indian  Cables  these  diaries  have  been  largely 
drawn  from,  in  order  to  illustrate  the  real  character  of  a 
telegraph  engineer's  life  and  the  vicissitudes  encountered 
during  a  cable  expedition  under  unfavourable  conditions. 


Surprise  is  sometimes  expressed  that  social  festivities- 
given  and  received — should  form  a  feature  in  cable  expedi- 
tions. It  should,  however,  be  remembered  that  the  nature 
of  the  work  points  to  the  necessity  of  ensuring  friendly 
relations  with  those  to  whom  the  cable  has  been  taken. 

Bright's  life  was  throughout  associated  with  trouble.  It 
would,  in  fact,  have  been  well  had  he  turned  to  lighter 
occupations  in  his  closing  years,  when,  with  failing  health, 
he  no  longer  had  the  constitution  for  arduous  work. 

Essentially  a  man  of  action,  and  obviously  endowed  with 
great  ability,  his  main  characteristics  were,  in  the  author's 
opinion,  intense  energy,  patience,  fortitude  under  adverse 
circumstances,  determination,  perseverance  and  resource. 
He  seemed  constantly  to  be  living  up  to  Longfellow's 
Knes  :— 

Each  morning  sees  some  task  begun, 

Each  evening  sees  it  close  ; 
Something  attempted,  something  done, 

Has  earned  a  night's  repose. 


I  FAMILY  MEMOIRS         ......  i 

II  BOYHOOD  ........  4 

III  LAND  TELEGRAPHS      ......  6 

IV  THE  CABLE  TO  IRELAND      .....  26 
V  THE  ATLANTIC  CABLE           .....  32 

Section  i.  Investigations  and  Stepping  Stones    ...          32 

2.  Formation  of  the  Company  and    Construction  of 

the  Cable    .           ......  39 

3.  Ships,  Stowage,  and  Departure  for  Valentia        .  53 

4.  The  "Wire  Squadron"  at  Valentia  ...  63 

5.  Laying  the  First  Ocean  Cable    ....  66 

6.  Preparations  for  Another  Attempt     ...  73 

7.  The  Trial  Trip 88 

8.  The  Storm 91 

9.  The  Renewed  Effort  .          .          .          .          .105 

10.  Finis  coronal  opus     .         .          .          .          .          .116 

11.  The  Celebration         .          .          .          .          .          .140 

12.  The  Working  of  the  Line  .          .          .          .149 

13.  The  Inquest .162 

14.  Other  Routes    ...  ...       167 

15.  The  1865   and  1866  Cables          .  .176 

VI     THE  MEDITERRANEAN  CABLES      .                              .     200 
VII      1860-1863 2°5 

Proposed  Permanent  Exhibition  in  Paris— Retirement  from 
Engineership  to  the  Magnetic  Telegraph  Company — 
Partnership  with  Mr.  Latimer  Clark— The  Formulation  of 
Electrical  Standards  and  Units. 





Section  i.  Retrospect  and  Preparations      .  .219 

2.  The  Design,  Construction  and  Testing  of  the  Per- 

sian Gulf  Cable     .  .225 

3.  Laying  the  Cable       .  .232 

4.  The  Land  Line  Connecting  Links  .                     .        256 

5.  Retrospection  and  Reminiscences  .                    .261 

IX     POLITICS  AND  PARLIAMENT  ....      265 

X     1865-1869  .          .          .          .          .          .          .276 

The  Inquiry  into  the  Construction  of  Submarine  Telegraphs — 
Second  and  Third  Atlantic  Cables,  1865-66 — Hooper's 
India-rubber  Cables — Improvement  of  Communication  with 
India  and  the  East — Extension  to  the  Far  East — The  Anglo- 
Mediterranean  Cable  —  British-Indian  Lines  —  British- 
Indian  Extension,  etc.,  Lines — Marseilles,  Algiers  and 
Malta  Line — Falmouth,  Gibraltar  and  Malta  Cable — Rival 
Schemes — The  "Eastern"  Companies — Parliamentary 

XI     WEST  INDIA  CABLES  .          .          .          .          -505 

Section  i.  The  Florida-Cuba  Line 305 

2.  Preparations  and  Manufacture  of  Island  Links  .        310 

3.  Laying  the  Cables     .          .          .          .          .          .319 

4.  Adventures  and  Reminiscences  .          .          .361 

5.  The  Griefs  of  Grappling    .          .          .          .          .362 

6.  Homeward  Bound      ......        367 

XII     1873-1874  ...  ...      371 

XIII  LAND  TELEGRAPHS      ......      073 

Section  i.  Transfer  to  the  State         ....  373 

2.  Railway  and  Government  Arbitrations        .          .       376 


The  Servian  Mines. 

XV    THE  FIRE  ALARM        ....  035 





XVIII     VARIOUS  EVIDENCE  AND  REPORTS        .          .          .     409 

The    "Direct    United    States"     Cable    Arbitration  —  Other 
Atlantic  Cables — Duplex  Telegraphy — The  Phonopore. 




XXII  VOLUNTEERING   ....  .  423 

XXIII  FREEMASONRY    .....  -424 


Shooting  and  Fishing — Yachting — Tours  and  Picnics — Club 

XXV     DEATH  AND  FUNBRAL  .          .  •     441 

XXVI     SUMMARY  .  .     44^ 

APPENDIX.     BRIGHT'S  INVENTIONS  .          .          .          .      449 

List  of  Illustrations 

Sir  Charles  Bright  (age  26) Frontispiece 

Monument  to  Sir  John  Bright,  Bart.  .          .  2 

Bright's  Testing  and  Fault  Localisation  System  .          .          7 

Bright's  Insulator       .....  I2 

Bright's  Shackles        ......  I2 

Bright's  Telegraph  Post      ....  I2 

Bright's  Underground  System I  ^ 

Bright's  Bell  Instrument    .....  22 

Bright's  Acoustic  Telegraph         .          .          .          .          .          .24 

The  Anglo-Irish  Cable,   1853  .          .          .          .          -27 

Laying  the  First  Cable  to  Ireland,   1853      .  .          .          .        31 

Signatures  to  Atlantic  Cable  Agreement      ....       40 

Route  for  Atlantic  Cable,  with  Soundings  ....       47 

First  Atlantic  Cable  .          .          .          .          .          .          .          .48 

First  Atlantic  Cable  (shore-end  type) 49 

Mr.  C.  T.  Bright  (age  25) 53 

The  Cedars,  Harrow  Weald 54 

Coiling  the  Cable  Aboard 55 

H.M.S.  Agamemnon  taking  Cable  abroad     .          .          .          -57 
U.S.N.S.  Niagara        ........        59 

Landing  the  Cable  on  the  Coast  of  Ireland    ....       65 

Picking  up  Cable 74 

The  Self-Releasing  Friction    Brake 76 

The  Principle  of  the  Brake 77 

Bright's  Paying-out  Gear  for  the  First  Atlantic  Cable,   1858       79 
H.M.S.  Agamemnon,  with  the  Cable,  in  a  Storm  .          .       98 

H.M.S.  Agamemnon  completing  the  First  Atlantic  Cable          .     136 
U.S.N.S.  Niagara  completing  the  Cable  at  the  American  end     138 
Landing  the  Irish  End  of  the  Cable   .          «          .          .          .141 
Facsimile  of  one  of  the  first  Messages  received  on  the  Atlantic 

Cable  ..-,...  •      Z55 

North  Atlantic  Telegraph  Project,   1860  :  .......  ...     169 

Second  Atlantic  Cable         ....  •      *79 




Second  Atlantic  Cable  (shore  end)  •      185 

Buoys,  Grapnels,  Mushrooms — and  Men       .  .186 

Great  Eastern  Completing  the  Second  Atlantic  Cable    .  .      191 

The  Cable-covering  Apparatus     .  .216 

Compound  Conveyer            .                               .  •      2r7 

Map  showing  Telegraph  to  India         .  .222 

Portrait  of  Sir  Charles  Bright  (age  32)  .      224 

The  Persian  Gulf  Cable  (main  type)  .  .229 

Cable-laying  in  the  Persian  Gulf          .          .          .  .  .236 

Elphinstone  Island"  and  Telegraph  Station     ....      245 

Landing  the  Cable  in  the  Mud  at  Fao         .           .  .  .248 

Telegraphic  Communication  to  the  East,  1868        .  .  .292 

Little  Sutton,  Chiswick       .          .          .          .           .  .  -303 

Sir  Charles  Bright  (age  37).          ....  .  306 

Route  for  the  West  Indian  Cables       .          .          .  .  -307 

Telegraph  Ship  Dacia  off  the  Silvertown  Works  .  3  r  i 

Bright's  Cable  Gear  aboard  T.S.  Dacia        .          .  .  .312 

The  West  Indian  Cable  (deep-sea  type)       .           .  .  .313 

The  West  Indian  Cable  (shore  end)    .           .           .  .  -313 

Grapnel  in  Operation           .          .          .          .          .  .  .317 

Grappling  Rope           .          .          .          .           .          .  .  .317 

H.M.S.   Vestal  with  T.S.S.  Dacia  and  Suffolk  off  the  Cuban 

Coast  .........     320 

Reproduction  from  Diary .  .          .          .          .          .          -335 

Reproduction  from  Diary   ......  342-3 

Reproduction  from  Diary   .          .    •       .  .  .  .  .356 

Fire  Alarm  Post 389 

Bright's  Street  Fire  Alarm  System     .          .          .          .          .391 

Bright's  Automatic  Fire  Alarm .392 

Bust  of  Sir  Charles  Bright          ......      440 

Bright's  Double-roofed  Shackle   ......      456 

Bright's  Curb  Transmitting  Key 457 

Bright's  Lightning  Guard  for  Submarine  Cables     .          .          -459 

Bright's  Printing  Telegraph 462 

Bright's  Arc  Lamp .463 

Bright's  Continuous  Current  Dynamo  Machine        .          .  464 

Bright's  Alternate-Current  Dynamo      .          .          .          .          .      466 

Family   Memoirs 

nrVHE   subject   of   this   biography   was   descended   from 
-*•       the  ancient  Hallamshire  family  of  Bright,  of  which 
he    represented    the    senior    branch — Hallamshire    being 
formerly  one  of  the  divisions  of  Yorkshire. 

The  most  notable  member  of  the  family  in  remote  times 
was  Colonel  Sir  John  Bright,  Bart.,  of  Carbrook  Hall  and 
Badsworth,  who  was  a  military  chief  under  Cromwell,  and 
fought  with  Lord  Fairfax  in  the  Parliamentary  wars.  He 
raised  a  regiment  of  horse  on  his  own  estates,  and  was  in 
turn  Governor  of  York,  Sheffield  and  Hull.  During  the 
Commonwealth,  Colonel  Bright  was  one  of  the  six  represen- 
tatives in  Parliament  of  the  West  Riding.  When,  how- 
ever, the  execution  of  King  Charles  was  decided  upon,  he 
withdrew  from  the  Parliamentarian  ranks,  and  disbanded 
his  regiment.  He  subsequently  assisted  in  the  Restoration, 
and  was  created  a  baronet. 

The  only  surviving  child  of  Sir  John  Bright  married 
Sir  Henry  Liddell,  Bart.  The  eldest  son  by  this  marriage, 
Thomas,  was  the  ancestor  of  the  first  Lord  Ravensworth. 
John,  the  second  son,  was  made  principal  heir  of  his  grand- 
father, on  whose  death  he  assumed  the  name  and  arms  of 

i  B 



Bright.  At  one  time  M.P.  for  Pontefract,  he  was  the  origina- 
tor and  first  master  of  the  Badsworth  Hunt,  which,  in 
connection  with  the  said  John  Bright's  mastership,  boasts 
the  oldest  hunt  song  in  existence. 

A  granddaughter  of  the  above,  Mary  Bright,  was 
married  to  the  Marquis  of  Rockingham,  who  was  Prime 
Minister  for  a  short  time  towards  the  end  of  the  eighteenth 

The  pedigree  of  all  branches  of  the  Yorkshire  Brights 
is  given,  with  elaborate  ramifications,  in  Hunter's  Hallam- 
shire.  More  recently  a  condensed  edition,  with  reference 
to  this  branch  of  the  family,  was  published  in  Burke's 
Authorised  Arms. 



T)ORN  near  Wanstead,  Essex,  on  June  8th,  1832,  Charles 
U  Tilston  Bright,  the  youngest  son  of  Brailsford 
Bright,  was  brought  up  with  his  brothers  William  and 
Edward,  the  latter  being  afterwards  especially  associated 
with  him  in  telegraph  and  other  electric  engineering  work. 
Charles  Bright's  second  name  (Tilston)  came  from  his  grand- 
mother— a  godchild  of  Nelson's — -who  was  the  daughter 
of  Edward  Tilston,  of  Mold,  the  Tilstons  being  another 
Yorkshire  family  of  distinction. 

The  son  of  a  keen  sportsman,  young  Bright  seems  to  have 
had  full  opportunities  for  developing  tastes  which  served 
him  and  his  brother  in  good  stead  on  subsequent  travels 
into  various  wild  and  deserted  quarters  of  the  world. 

With  family  connections  on  the  governing  body,  these 
boys  were  sent  to  Merchant  Taylors  School  (one  of  the 
oldest  of  our  scholastic  institutions)  at  the  usual  life-period 
at  which  boys  go  to  a  public  school.  Young  Charles  evinced, 
if  anything,  a  greater  strength  in  Classics  than  in  Mathe- 
matics ;  but  there  seems  little  doubt  that  all  three  boys 
distinguished  themselves  bodily  rather  than  mentally  dur- 
ing their  boyhood,  representing  their  school  in  the  Racquet 
Court  as  well  as  on  the  River. 


In  those  days  Merchant  Taylors  held  a  somewhat  similar 
position  in  boating  to  Eton,  and  had  the  benefit  of  the 
best  of  Oxford  coaches.  The  two  younger  brothers  thus 
started  their  career  on  the  river  under  favourable  condi- 
tions. They  also  had  an  early  opportunity  of  practising 
their  powers  at  swimming,  for  on  one  of  the  first  occasions 
on  which  they  went  out  in  an  "  outrigger,"  the  eight  was 
swamped  by  the  swell  of  a  passing  steamer.  Indeed, 
what  with  passing  steamers,  bridges,  boat  collisions,  etc., 
the  brothers  had  to  swim  for  their  lives  eight  times,  in  all, 
before  completing  their  rowing  experiences  on  the  Thames. 
On  one  occasion,  just  after  young  Charles  had  been  hauled 
aboard  the  steamer,  and  was  shaking  the  water  off  him- 
self, an  old  gentleman  inquired,  "  May  I  ask,  young  man, 
if  you're  insured  ?  "  It  turned  out  afterwards  that  this 
worthy  old  gentleman  was  a  director  of  a  Life  Assurance 
Company  !  l 

1  It  were  better,  however,  to  physically  prevent  than  to  pecuni- 
arily provide  for.  May  it  not  be  said,  indeed,  that  the  parents  of 
every  child  ought  to  be  compelled,  by  Act  of  Parliament,  to  make 
their  progeny  learn  to  swim  ;  and  that  national  baths  and  instructors 
should  be  instituted  for  the  purpose  ? 


Land   Telegraphs 

/CHARLES  BRIGHT  and  his  elder  brothers  were  in- 
^-^  tended  for  an  Oxford  career  ;  but  owing  to  heavy 
pecuniary  losses  on  the  part  of  their  father,  the  serious  and 
more  immediately  practical  side  of  life  had  to  be  at  once 
entered  upon.  As  schoolboys,  Edward  and  Charles  had 
very  much  interested  themselves  both  in  electricity  and 
chemistry.  Thus,  soon  after  its  formation  in  1847,  they 
joined,  when  respectively  sixteen  and  fifteen  years  old, 
the  Electric  Telegraph  Company.  This  came  about  by 
Charles  Bright  answering  a  Times  advertisement  "  for 
gentlemen's  sons  with  education."  Young  Charles  started 
as  a  telegraph  clerk  at  Harrow  Station  on  the  London  and 
North-Western  Railway,  the  telegraph  work  on  the  line 
being  undertaken  by  the  "  Electric  "  Company. 

Young  Charles'  initial  occupation  was,  then,  working 
the  telegraph  instruments  in  a  railway  signalling  box, 
varied  by  sleeping  in  a  local  inn  when  off  duty.  But  he 
foresaw  a  sufficient  future  in  this  new  application  of  Electric 
Science  to  introduce  his  two  brothers  a  little  later  to  the 
Company.  The  elder  brother,  William,  did  not  for  long 
remain  attached  to  electrical  work.1  His  tastes  and  abilities 

1  Of  an  adventurous  turn,  he  went  out  to  Australia  a  little  later. 
There  he  died  in  1872,  leaving  a  son,  Charles  Edward,  who  has 
done  good  service  in  telegraphic  administration,  and  is  now  Deputy 
Postmaster- General  to  the  Australian  Commonwealth. 



ran  in  other  directions;  but  Edward  was  always  more 
or  less  in  double  harness  with  Charles  throughout  their 
lives.  Some  time  after  these  two  brothers  had  been 




working  with  the  Electric  Company  they  discovered 
that  it  was  largely  under  the  auspices  of  that  great  tele- 
graphic inventor,  Mr.  (afterwards  Sir  William)  Fothergill 
Cooke,  who  was  a  connection  by  marriage  ;  but  all  their 


successes  were  effected  off  their  own  bat,  so  to  speak,  and 
without  the  exercise  of  any  personal  interest. 

Within  a  year  of  entering  upon  this  new  field,  both  boys 
became  inventors.  Much  of  their  spare  time  was  devoted 
to  thinking  over,  discussing  together,  and  devising  practical 
improvements  on  the  Cooke  and  Wheatstone  and  other 
systems  of  telegraphy. 

In  those  days,  patent  fees  of  £150  had  to  be  paid,  in 
addition  to  the  heavy  charges  to  patent  agents  for  drafting, 
drawing,  and  completing  patents.  As  much  as  this  the 
brothers  could  not  afford,  so  they  contented  themselves, 
for  the  time  being,  with  starting  a  joint  invention  book, 
kept  under  lock  and  key,  into  which  they,  from  time  to 
time,  entered  up  drawings,  descriptions,  and  dates.  These 
were  afterwards,  with  several  additions,  embodied  in  the 
famous  patent  of  October  21,  1852. x  It  suffices  to  say 
here,  that  many  of  the  novelties  included  therein  are  now 
in  common  use  after  a  lapse  of  forty-five  years.2 

Perhaps  the  most  important  of  their  early  inventions  was 
the  system,  devised  in  February,  1849,  °f  testing  insulated 
conductors  to  localise  faults  from  a  distant  point,  by  means 
of  a  series  of  standard  resistance  coils  of  different  values, 
brought  into  circuit  successively  by  turning  a  connecting 
handle.  The  preceding  drawing,  reproduced  from  the 
1852  specification,  shows  what  is  even  now  the  best  form 
of  resistance  coil  arrangement  in  use  for  testing  land  and 

1  Patent  Specification,  No.   14,331  of  1852. 

8  Youthful  inventors  may  not  be  very  uncommon  ;  but  how 
many  actually  invent  anything  at  the  age  of  seventeen  which  ever 
comes  into  practical  use  ? 


submarine  telegraphs.  Indeed,  capital  would  never  have 
been  found  for  the  vast  system  of  submarine  cables  through- 
out the  world  without  the  aid  of  this  invention,  which 
enables  repairing  vessels  to  at  once  go  to  the  scene  of  damage, 
instead  of  having  to  pick  up  and  cut  the  cable  here,  there 
and  everywhere  at  haphazard. 

The  year  1851  saw  some  important  changes  in  the  lives 
of  both  the  brothers.  After  having  for  some  time  been  in 
charge  of  the  Birmingham  station,  Charles  left  the  "  Elec- 
tric "  Company,  and  shortly  after  became  Assistant  Engineer 
to  the  lately  formed  British  Telegraph  Company,  whilst 
Edward  joined  the  Magnetic  Telegraph  Company.  Thus, 
the  two  brothers  became  engaged  in  advancing  the  early 
stages  of  two  competing  concerns — a  curious  and  novel 
position.  Charles'  headquarters  were  at  Manchester, 
whilst  Edward  was  stationed  at  Liverpool.  As  a  rule, 
however,  each  passed  alternate  Sundays  with  the  other. 

On  taking  up  his  new  position,  Charles  Bright  was  at 
once  engaged  in  superintending  the  erection  of  telegraphs 
on  the  Lancashire  and  Yorkshire  and  other  railways,  as  well 
as  in  connecting  and  fitting  up  various  telegraph  offices 
for  the  Company  he  was  serving  at  that  time.  The  follow- 
ing is  a  copy  of  a  letter  he  wrote  to  the  young  lady  to  whom 
he  was  now  engaged,  and  who  shortly  after  became  his 
wife  : — 

British  Electric  Telegraph  Company, 


September  $th,  1851. 

I  received  your  letter  yesterday,  but  could  not  answer  it,  as 
I  was  fully  occupied  until  past  post  time. 


You  may  easily  imagine  that  with  160  miles  of  line  which  I 
have  to  commence  at  once,  and  a  great  many  more  directly  after — 
if  not  nearly  at  the  same  time — that  I  have  a  great  deal  to  look 
after.  The  only  person  who  could  assist  me,  one  of  the  directors, 
is  fully  engaged  with  bringing  out  a  Bill  for  next  Parliament  for 
a  new  railway  line.  So  I  am  the  only  manager  of  telegraphic 
detail  for  the  campaign,  in  addition  to  which  I  have  some  twenty- 
five  long  patents  to  bear  in  mind  as  to  their  separate  claims 
and  intentions,  so  as  not  to  infringe  any  other  people's  property. 

I  look  forward  to  a  stormy  and  active  life  for  the  next  six 
months  in  various  parts  of  the  country — a  life  which  I  shall  go 
into  with  pleasure,  as  I  have  you  as  the  prize  to  look  and  hope 
for.  It  will  not  be  unpleasant  to  me — however  uncomfortable 
generally  and  disagreeable  in  detail — for,  as  you  know,  my  aim 
for  some  time  has  been  to  weave  a  web  of  wire  in  opposition  to 
the  monopoly,  and,  as  I  cannot  do  it  for  ourselves,  I  am  well 
content  to  do  it  for  others.  Having  no  stake  or  responsibility 
in  it,  I  feel  more  comfortable  perhaps  than  I  should  have  had  we 
succeeded  in  establishing  a  Company,  which  would  have  been 
a  case  of  either  make  or  mar. 

I  write  you  these  business  details,  dearest,  because  I  know  they 
will  not  be  tedious  to  you,  and  because  I  think  you  may  have 
wasted  your  thoughts  in  speculations  as  to  what  I  could  be  doing 
in  London  !  .  .  .  It  is  pleasant  to  be  engaged  in  a  work  of 
interest  to  oneself,  and  how  much  more  when  there  is  an  object 
to  be  worked  for  so  dear  as  my  own  B ! 

You  will  be  glad  to  hear  that  there  is  nothing  irksome  or  un- 
pleasant in  my  position  with  the  Company.  Though  very  young 
(I  haven't  told  them  how  young  !)  I  am  looked  up  to,  and  I  have 
no  reason  to  be  dissatisfied.  I  am  treated  kindly  and  like  a 
gentleman,  and  it  is  astonishing  how  much  more  energetically 
one  can  work  with  such  treatment  than  with  that  distance  which 
is  so  common  between  directors  and  officers  of  a  Company.  The 
promises  held  out  to  me  at  first  have  been  renewed,  and  I  hope 
I  shall  hold  even  a  higher  position  than  I  was  sanguine  enough 
to  anticipate  ;  but  of  course  I  do  not  expect  everything  at  once, 


or  until  the  directors  receive  some  return— or  without  some 
actual  work  and  thought.  . 

On  the  success  of  the  Magnetic  Company  being  demon- 
strated, capital  was  quickly  forthcoming  for  the  organisa- 
tion of  a  powerful  Chartered  Company  under  limited  lia- 
bility, entitled  the  English  and  Irish  Magnetic  Telegraph 
Company.  The  headquarters  of  the  new  Company  were 
located  in  Liverpool,  where  most  of  the  capital  was  repre- 

In  1852,  the  subject  of  this  memoir,  when  scarcely  twenty 
3^ears  of  age,  was  asked  by  the  Board  to  become  their 
Engineer-in-Chief ,  which  post  he  accepted,  resigning  his  posi- 
tion on  the  "  British."  Edward  Bright  had  been  Manager 
of  the  Company  for  some  months  previously. 

It  was  in  this  year  that  the  brothers  took  out  their  famous 
patent,  to  which  allusion  has  already  been  made.  It  con- 
tained twenty-four  distinct  inventions  connected  with 
telegraphs,  and  it  may  be  well  here  to  enumerate  some  of 
the  more  important. 

First  of  all,  there  was  the  porcelain  insulator  for  fixing 
aerial  telegraph  wires  mounted  on  posts.  This  has  been 
found  to  be  a  highly  efficient  method  of  insulation.1  It 
was  at  once  adopted  on  an  extensive  scale,  and,  in  one  form 
or  another,  it  continues  in  use  to  the  present  day.  There 
was  also  its  adjunct,  the  shackle  or  terminal  insulator. 
This  is  also  made  of  porcelain,  and  is  universally  employed 
for  terminations,  and  whenever  the  wire  has  to  be  taken  at 

1  In  his  article  on  the  "  Electric  Telegraph,"  in  the  Encyclopedia 
Britannica,  8th  edition,  vol.  xxi.,  the  late  Lord  Kelvin  referred  to 
this  as  "  the  best  idea  for  a  single  telegraphic  insulator," 



an  angle — over  houses,  for  instance,  round  a  corner,  or  in 
any  case  where  great  strains  are  involved,  whether  owing 
to  long  spans  or  otherwise. 



Then  followed  the  now  universal  system  of  aeriel  tele- 
graph posts  with  varying  length  of  arms,  to  avoid  the  chance 

of  one  wire  dropping  on 

After  this  came  the 
brass  tape  device  for  the 
protection  of  insulated 
conductors  of  s  u  b  t  e  r- 
ranean,  or  submarine, 

There  was  then  a  trans- 
lator, or  repeater,  for  re- 
transmitting electric  cur- 
rents of  either  kind  in 
both  directions  on  a  single 


Another  important  item  in  the  above  famous  master 
patent  was  the  plan  of  testing  insulated  conductors  for 
purposes  of  fault  localisation.  This,  however,  has  already 
been  referred  to. 

There  was  also  a  standard  galvanometer  (foreshadowing 
differential  testing)  and  a  new  type-printing  instrument,  as 
well  as  what  was  then  a  novel  mode  of  laying  underground 
wires  in  troughs. 

This  patent  was  taken  out  when  the  patentees  were 
respectively  twenty-one  and  twenty  years  of  age  ;  but  it 
contained  the  results  of  four  years'  combined  thought. 

In  addition  to  the  labour  and  experiments  associated  with 
the  practical  application  of  these  improvements  for  the 
"  Magnetic  "  Company,  during  1852,  young  Bright  directed 
the  completion  of  a  vast  telegraphic  system  throughout 
the  United  Kingdom,  which  had  lately  been  commenced  by 
the  Company.  This  included  a  main  trunk  line  along  the 
high-roads,  consisting  of  ten  gutta-percha-covered  wires 
laid  in  troughs  underground  between  London,  Birmingham 
and  Manchester,  thence  by  railway  to  Liverpool  and  Pres- 
ton, and  six  wires  onwards,  also  underground,  to  Carlisle, 
Dumfries,  Glasgow,  and  Greenock.  From  Dumfries  a 
branch  of  six  underground  wires  was  laid  under  the  roads 
to  Portpatrick,  to  meet  the  Company's  Irish  cable.  In 
Ireland,  the  underground  system  was  extended  from 
Donaghadee  to  Belfast,  and  thence,  via  Newry  and  Dundalk, 
to  Dublin,  comprising  in  all  nearly  7,000  miles  of  wire.  Al- 
though gutta-percha  had  been  discovered  in  1843,  and  its 
insulating  qualities  had  been  appreciated  by  Faraday  and 
Werner  Siemens  as  early  as  1847,  this  was  the  first  instance, 


in  our  country,  in  which  any  length  of  gutta-percha-covered 
cable  had  been  laid  underground. 

Let  us  now  consider  the  nature  of  this  underground  sys- 
tem. The  form  it  should  take  had  been  very  carefully  gone 
into  by  Charles  Bright.  It  was  evident  that  the  integrity 
of  the  insulating  coatings  of  gutta-percha  could  not  be  pre- 
served long  without  some  external  protection  throughout 
the  length  of  each  line,  as  the  mere  compression  of  the  soil, 
gravel  and  stones  would  have  at  once  injured  it  ;  and  in 
opening  the  roads  for  repair  they  would  experience  still 
further  damage. 

After  discussing  the  merits  of  various  plans  of  protection, 
it  was  finally  decided  that  the  wires  throughout  towns 
should  be  deposited  in  2-J-inch  cast-iron  piping,  divided 
longitudinally,  so  that  the  wires  might  be  laid  in  quickly 
without  the  tedious  and  injurious  operation  of  drawing 
through  associated  with  the  old  system  of  street  work,  in 
which  the  wires  were  deposited  in  ordinary  gas-piping.  On 
the  other  hand,  Bright  decided  that  along  the  country 
roads — which  were  comparatively  little  liable  to  disturbance 
from  the  construction  of  sewers,  or  laying  of  gas  or  water 
pipes — the  wires  should  be  deposited  in  creosoted  wooden 
troughs  of  about  three-inch  scantling,  cut  in  long  lengths, 
so  as  to  be  almost  free  from  the  chances  of  damage  upon 
any  partial  subsidence  of  the  soil.  The  tops  of  the  troughs 
were  to  be  protected  by  fastening  to  them  a  galvanised 
iron  lid. 

Some  idea  of  the  trough  system  for  the  public  highways 
may  be  gathered  from  the  accompanying  sketch.  The 


gutta-percha-covered  wires  were  deposited  in  the  square, 
creosoted  wooden  trough  (shown  below),  after  being  bound 
together  by  a  lapping  of  tarred  yarn.  To  deposit  the  rope 
of  insulated  conductors  in  the  trough  it  was  first  coiled 
upon  a  large  drum,  and  this  was  then  rolled  slowly  over  the 
trench,  which  had  a  depth  of  some  three  feet.  The  rope  of 
wires  was  paid  off  easily  and  evenly  into  its  bed.  The  gal- 
vanised iron  lid,  about  an  eighth  of  an  inch  thick,  was  then 


fastened  on  by  clamps   (see  illustration),  and  the  trench 
filled  in  again. 

The  method  adopted  in  the  case  of  underground  wires 
laid  in  iron  troughs  under  the  streets  of  towns  must  now 
be  described  in  some  detail  ;  for  it  was  in  connection  with 
the  application  of  this  at  Manchester  that  young  Bright 
was  first  brought  into  public  notice  about  this  time  (1852), 
over  what  was  rightly  recognised  as  a  remarkable  feat. 


It  was  essential  that  the  traffic  of  so  busy  a  city  should  be 
interrupted  as  little  as  possible.  Charles  Bright  did  not 
interrupt  the  traffic  at  all.  In  one  night  he  had  the  streets 
up,  deposited  the  wires,  and  had  laid  the  pavements  down 
again  before  the  inhabitants  were  out  of  their  beds  in  the 
morning.  He  was  then  but  nineteen,  and  received  great 
credit  in  the  public  journals,  notably  in  The  Times,  which 
made  this  piece  of  work  the  subject  of  a  leading  article. 

The  following  arrangements  for  the  night's  work  go  to 
show  the  prescience  and  energy  characteristic  of  him.     A 
large  number  of  navvies  were  engaged,   with   competent 
foremen.     To  each  gang  was  assigned  a  given  length  of 
street,  along  which  the  flagstones  were  to  be  lifted,  the 
trench  opened  to  the  requisite  depth,  and  the  under-halves 
of  the  pipes  laid  and  linked  at  the  bottom.     Another  gang 
at  once  followed,  wheeling  the  drum    (whose  breadth   ex- 
ceeded that  of  the  trench),  and  unwinding  the  rope  of  wires 
into  the  under-halves  of  the  pipes  previously  laid  down. 
A  further  gang  followed  for  applying,  linking,  and  tightening 
the  upper-halves  of  the  pipes,  while  yet  another  set  of  men 
filled  up  the  trench  and  replaced  the  flags.     This  operation, 
though  easily  described,  required  at  this    early  stage    of 
telegraphy  a  great  deal  of  consideration,  coupled  with  very 
active  and  determined  control  throughout  the  short  night. 
The  following  letter,  addressed  by  young  Bright  to  his 
fiancee,  will  be  of  interest  here,  as  picturing  the  scene  : — • 


September  nth,  1852. 

Your  letter  did  not  arrive  until  last  evening.     I  should  have 
written  sooner,  but  have  been  very  busy.     Last  night  I  spent 


entirely  out  of  doors,  and  as  I  have  not  been  able  to  get  any 
sleep  since,  I  shall  not  write  long  now.  ...  It  is  the  third 
bedless  night  I  have  had  lately,  and  I  expect  two  more  next 

I  was  at  Liverpool  last  night,  getting  our  wires  from  the  station 
to  our  offices  in  the  Exchange.  From  the  great  traffic  during 
the  day,  it  is  impossible  either  in  Liverpool  or  Manchester  to  do 
anything  by  day,  and  unless  I  keep  a  sharp  eye  on  the  men,  either 
the  pipes  are  laid  too  near  the  surface,  or  they  break  gas  or 
water  pipes  and  cause  expensive  repairs.  Moreover,  they  never 
do  a  third  of  the  work  at  night  unless  I  am  with  them  ! 

Last  night  I  did  the  quickest  piece  of  telegraphic  work  which 
has  ever  been  done.  We  began  at  ten,  and  by  eight  in  the  morn- 
ing we  had  laid  piping  containing  eight  wires  under  the  streets 
nearly  half  a  mile,  and  all  repaved. 

Can  you  fancy  such  a  scene  ?  A  long  row  of  men  with  pick- 
axes, followed  by  others  with  spades,  and  after  them  a  gang  of 
men  laying  pipes  and  wires,  and,  to  conclude,  another  set  re-laying 
the  paving-stones.  This  row  of  workmen  are  lighted  up  by 
large  fire-grates  at  intervals,  flaring  and  smoking  away  like  beacons 
on  the  coast — a  perfect  Babel  of  voices — the  continual  sharp 
knocking  of  the  pickaxes  and  the  scraping  and  clanging  of  the 
pipes  being  laid  and  hammered  up,  added  to  continued  shouting 
for  this  or  that  tool.  If  you  can  conjure  up  this,  you  can  fancy 
my  figure  appearing  in  the  light  here  and  there  with  two  or  three 
foremen — quite  in  my  element,  only  I  don't  like  the  night. 
I  expect  you  would  be  very  much  alarmed  if  you  were  unexpec- 
tedly awoke  by  such  a  noise  and  looked  out  on  such  a  scene  !  .  .  . 

I  tell  you  all  about  my  night's  doings,  because  I  was  pleased 
at  the  speed,  which  I  had  previously  calculated  on  doing  it  in. 
The  plan  was  a  new  one  of  my  own.  .  .  . 

One  of  Bright 's  assistants  has  described  how  his  chief 
wrote  out  instructions  to  the  minutest  details,  even  to  the 
extent  of  stating  where  the  vessels  of  pitch  were  to  be  placed, 



besides  specifying  the  temperature  of  the  mixture  and  that 
it  was  to  be  tested  before  being  run  into  the  trough.1 

Charles  Bright  subsequently  carried  out  the  same  work 
through  the  streets  of  London,  Liverpool  and  other  large 

The  great  advantage  gained  in  laying  these  main  trunk 
lines  underground  was  that  they  were  thereby  absolutely 
beyond  the  reach  of  damage  by  stormy  weather. 

Thus  it  was  that  the  "  Magnetic  "  Company  became  at 
once  a  prosperous  and  successful  company  ;  but  Charles 
Bright  also  personally  directed  the  erection  of  overhead 
wires  on  the  following  railways  : — The  East  Lancashire, 
Caledonian,  Midland,  Great  Western,  Great  Southern  and 
Western,  Waterford  and  Limerick,  Dublin  and  Drogheda, 
Belfast  junction,  Ulster,  County  Down,  Belfast  and 
Coleraine,  Londonderry  and  Enniskillen,  Londonderry 
and  Coleraine. 

The  Journal  of  the  Institution  of  Civil  Engineers,  in 
its  obituary  notice,2  contains  the  following  testimony  in 
regard  to  these  undertakings  :  "  All  this  work,  both  over- 
head and  underground,  entailed  a  vast  amount  of  energy 
and  perseverance  on  the  part  of  Sir  Charles  Bright,  and 
many  are  the  stories  related  of  the  difficulties  overcome 
in  the  rapid  progress  of  the  underground  work." 

The  summer  of  1853  saw  great  events  in  Charles  Bright's 

1  Since  the  original  edition,  attention  has  been  called  in  the  House 
of  Commons,  as  well  as  in  the  Press,  to  this  striking  work  of  young, 
nineteen-year  old,  Bright,  a  propos  of  the  disturbance  to  traffic  often 
nowadays  experienced  in  the  height  of  the  London  season. 

2  Mins.  Proc.  Inst.  C.E.,  vol.  xciii.,  part  iii. 


life.  He  married,  at  the  age  of  twenty-one,  Miss  Taylor, 
daughter  of  Mr.  John  Taylor,  of  Belle vue,  Kingston- 
upon-Hull,  to  whom  he  had  for  some  time  been  devotedly 
attached.  Mr.  Taylor  was  head  of  one  of  the  leading  mer- 
cantile firms  in  Hull.  Like  the  Brights,  the  Taylors, 
and  their  ancestors  the  Willots  and  the  Gills,  came 
originally  from  the  West  Riding  of  Yorkshire.  Charles 
Bright's  fiancee  was  one  of  the  youngest  in  a  family 
of  nine.  The  young  couple  had  become  engaged 
nearly  two  years  previously.  They  had  met  first  while 
staying  with  mutual  cousins,  the  Henry  Brights,  near 
Hull.  The  wedding  took  place  on  May  nth,  1853,  at 
St.  James',  Hull.  These  young  people  started  life 
together  on  an  income  of  about  £250.  Later  on  they 
often  looked  back  with  pleasure  on  those  early  days  of 
comparative  poverty,  which  were,  nevertheless,  some  of 
the  happiest  of  their  married  life. 

In  that  year  (1853)  the  first  effective  cable  to  Ireland 
was  made,  under  Bright's  supervision,  by  Messrs.  Newall 
&  Company,  of  Gateshead,  and  laid  between  Donaghadee, 
in  Ireland,  and  Portpatrick,  in  Scotland.  This  undertaking 
is  dealt  with  in  the  next  chapter. 

At  the  outset  of  the  "  Magnetic  "  Company's  opera- 
tions, the  brothers  found  it  necessary  to  devise  fresh  appa- 
ratus to  compensate  for  the  inductive  discharge  resulting 
from  the  long  underground  circuits,  by  discharging  to 
earth  and  thus  neutralising  the  recoil  currents.  From  that 
time  till  the  spring  of  1854  they  carried  out  a  series  of 
experiments  on  the  great  lengths  of  subterranean  wires 
under  their  control,  in  order  to  investigate  this  novel 


phenomenon,  with  a  view  to  working  through  an  Atlantic 
cable.  This  had  been  the  great  object  which  Charles  Bright 
had  in  view  in  pushing  on  the  Company's  extension  in  the 
West  of  Ireland,  his  idea  being  at  the  time  that  a  point 
between  Limerick  and  Galway  would  be  the  most  suitable 
landing-place  for  the  cable.  Some  of  the  results  of  these 
researches  were  detailed  and  illustrated  experimentally  by 
Edward  Bright,  at  a  meeting  of  the  British  Association 
at  Liverpool,  in  I854,1  m  an  address  on  "  The  Retardation 
of  Electricity  through  Long  Subterranean  Wires." 

During  1854,  the  brothers  were  heavily  burdened,  Charles 
in  completing  the  enormous  network  of  telegraphic  wires 
—thousands  of  miles  in  all — that  had  been  constructed 
under  his  direction  with  such  wonderful  rapidity  through- 
out the  kingdom  ;  and  Edward  in  acquiring  and  fitting 
up  the  stations,  organising  the  staff,  making  rules  and 
regulations  for  the  service,  arranging  message  tariffs  and 
supply  of  news  to  the  Press,  etc. 

Time  was  nevertheless  found  for  other  work.  They 
engaged  in  experiments  with  the  late  Mr.  Staite,  on  the 
electric  light— then  in  its  absolute  infancy.  Mr.  Staite's 
arc  lamp  had  been  exhibited  for  some  months  on  the  Liver- 
pool Landing  Stage,  till  the  pilots  complained  (as  well  as 
the  steamboat  captains)  that  it  dazzled  them  and  hindered 
their  steering  on  the  river  Mersey. 

At  this  period,  both  the  brothers  materially  aided  the 
late  Admiral  Fitzroy  in  the  inauguration  of  his  plan  of 
daily  telegraphic  reports  in  connection  with  the  newly- 
born  Meteorological  Department  of  the  Board  of  Trade,  and 
1  See  British  Association  Reports,  1854. 


the  storm-warning  system  which  the  Admiral  had  organ- 
ised. They  arranged  for  the  requisite  barometers,  thermo- 
meters, wind  gauges,  etc.,  to  be  set  up  at  a  number  of  the 
Magnetic  Company's  stations,  especially  in  the  West  of 
Ireland  and  Scotland,  including  Cape  Clear,  Limerick, 
Tralee,  Galway,  Portrush,  Ayr,  Ardrossan,  etc.,  where 
coming  changes  of  weather  are,  as  a  rule,  first  indicated 
from  the  Atlantic.  The  "  Magnetic "  staff  were  duly 
instructed  in  the  taking  of  observations  twice  daily.  These 
were  then  telegraphed  to  the  Meteorological  Office  in  Lon- 
don by  means  of  a  concise  code,  drawn  up  by  Admiral  Fitz- 
roy  and  Charles  Bright,  with  a  view  to  expediting  the  mes- 
sages by  reducing  their  length,  as  it  did,  by  about  one-fifth. 
Although  at  the  outset  these  weather  forecasts  were  some- 
what tentative  and  were  much  derided,  their  vast  utility 
in  lessening  the  danger  to  life  at  sea  was  not  long  in  being 
recognised,  and  the  forecasting  of  the  weather  has  now,  by 
dint  of  experience,  become  almost  an  exact  science. 

At  the  end  of  the  year  1855  a  revolution  was  effected  in 
the  telegraphic  apparatus  used  by  the  "  Magnetic."  This 
company  had  up  to  the  period  in  question  employed 
Henley's  magneto-electric  telegraph  instruments.  Young 
Bright,  however,  perceiving  the  objection  to  any  instru- 
ment based  on  visual  signalling,  set  to  work  to  devise  an 
apparatus  which  would  communicate  signals  to  the  ear. 
The  result  was  that  in  1854  he  produced  the  Acoustic 
Telegraph,  since  commonly  known  as  "  Bright 's  Bells." 

The  cardinal  features  of  this  invention  (Patent  Specifica- 
tion No.  2,103  of  1855)  were  set  forth  in  Noad  and  Preece's 
Student's  Text  Book  of  Electricity,  as  follows  : — 



Under  the  ordinary  system  of  telegraphing,  it  is  necessary 
to  employ  a  transcriber  to  write  down  the  words  as  interpreted 
from  the  visual  signals  and  dictated  to  him  by  the  receiving 
operator,  whose  eyes  being  fixed  on  the  rapidly  moving  needles 
could  not  be  engaged  in  conjunction  with  his  hands  in  writing. 
It  was  found  that,  owing  to  the  frequent  occurrence  of  words 
of  nearly  similar  sound,  the  transcriber  sometimes  unavoidably 
misunderstood  the  meaning  of  the  receiving  operator,  and 
altered  the  sense  of  the  despatch  by  writing  the  wrong  word. 
Such  words  as  two,  too,  to  ;  four,  for ;  hour,  our,  etc.,  may,  for 
instance,  be  very  easily  confounded.  These  errors  cannot,  how- 
ever, arise  when  the  clerk,  who,  having  heard  each  word  pass 
through  the  acoustic  telegraph  letter  by  letter,  is  able — his  eyes 
being  at  liberty — to  himself  write  what  he  has  received  without 
the  aid  of  an  amanuensis.  Besides  the  saving  in  staff  (of  writers) 
and  in  mistakes,  any  injury  to  the  eyes  of  the  clerks  is  pre- 
vented, and  an  appeal  is  made  to  an  organ  far  better  capable  of 
endurance  and  accurate  interpretation. 

The  general  principle  of  the  instrument  consists  in  the 
sounding  of  two  bells  of  different  pitch  by  different  cur- 
rents. The  letters  and  words  are  readily  formed  from 
the  difference  in  their  tone  and  the  number  of  beats,  the 

same  (Morse) 
alphabet  being 
employed  as  in 
other  telegraph 

The  nature  of 
the  apparatus  is 
shown  in  the  ac- 
companying illus- 


tration  : — 


a  is  the  hammer  of  the  bell,  held  back  to  a  stop  by  a  flexible 
spring.  The  rod  of  the  hammer  is  fixed  to  the  projecting 
horns  of  the  movable  soft  iron  core  of  an  electro-magnet 
b'.  This  electro-magnet  b'  is  placed  opposite  to  a  fixed 
horse-shoe  electro-magnet  b ;  and  the  connections  are 
so  arranged  that,  on  the  current  passing  from  the  relay, 
the  electro-magnets  are  polarised  with  their  opposite  poles 
to  one  another.  Upon  a  current  passing,  the  bell  affected 
is  at  once  struck,  and  the  bell  being  muffled  so  as  to  pro- 
duce a  short  sound,  the  blow  may  be  repeated  as  rapidly 
as  desired  without  any  vibration  caused  by  one  sound 
interfering  with  that  succeeding  it. 

A  local  battery  supplies  the  mechanical  power  required 
to  strike  the  bells.  The  battery  is  put  in  connection  with 
either  bell,  according  to  the  current — positive  or  negative- 
passed  through  a  relay,  shown  in  the  next  illustration,  where 
also  may  be  seen  the  general  arrangement.  Here,  the 
receiving  clerk — with  his  head  bet  ween  the  two  different  toned 
bells,  each  fixed  to  a  wooden  partition — can  readily  distin- 
guish the  signals  corresponding  to  the  beats  of  the  needle. 
As  fast  as  he  does  so,  he  writes  down  their  significance. 

The  keys  with  which  currents  are  sent  to  work  this  ap- 
paratus are  of  a  simple  commutating  form.  By  pressing 
down  one  lever,  the  current  is  made  to  pass  in  one  direction, 
and  in  the  reverse  when  the  other  lever  is  used. 

This  form  of  telegraph,  like  the  Morse  (sounder  or  writer) 
and  other  instruments  of  to-day,  requires  only  one  wire. 
In  point  of  speed,  however,  it  has  a  great  advantage,  as  it 
utilises  both  positive  and  negative  currents,  while  the  Morse 
is  only  available  for  one  current.  Thus,  the  acoustic  instru- 


ment  only  occupies  in  the  transmission  of  the  alphabet 
about  half  the  time  of  the  American  apparatus,  and  is,  more- 
over, much  faster  *  than  any  type  of  visual  telegraph 
(except,  of  course,  those  worked  on  the  Wheatstone  auto- 
matic system),  for  reasons  already  explained.  It  is  also  far 
more  accurate.  So  simple  and  yet  speedy  in  its  working,  this 


invention  in  still  in  extensive  use,  mainly  owing  to  the 
great  increase  in  press  messages. 

During  1855,  young  Bright  thought  out  another  impor- 
tant invention  with  his  brother.  This  consisted  of  a 
system  of  duplex  telegraphy,  fully  described  in  the  same 
specification.  This  was  worked  successfully  between 
London  and  Birmingham.  As,  however,  the  "  Magnetic  " 

1  A  speed  of  forty  words  a  minute  is  frequently  attained. 


Company's  traffic  did  not  then  fill  their  wires,  the  system 
was  temporarily  laid  on  one  side. 

During  the  year  1856  some  of  the  Magnetic  Company's 
underground  lines  began  to  give  trouble.  The  authorities 
thereupon  set  themselves  to  consider  how  they  could  best 
extend  their  overhead  system.  This  culminated  in  the 
absorption  of  the  British  Telegraph  Company,  which  had 
exclusive  rights  for  overhead  telegraphs  along  the  public 
roadways.  After  the  above  amalgamation,  the  under- 
ground wires  were  only  used  in  places  where  circumstances 
rendered  them  specially  desirable.  The  new  "  Magnetic  " 
had  an  agreement  with  the  Submarine  Telegraph  Company, 
under  which  the  whole  of  the  latter's  cables  were  to  be 
worked  in  connection  with  the  land  lines  belonging  to  the 

Charles  Bright  remained  engineer-in-chief  to  the 
Magnetic  Company  until  about  1860,  from  which  time 
(owing  to  press  of  other  work)  he  held  a  consulting  position 
only.  Thereupon  Edward  Bright  assumed  the  engineership 
in  addition  to  the  general  management. 

The  business  of  some  of  the  early  telegraph  companies 
with  which  Charles  Bright  was  connected  flourished  so 
well  that  they  were  able  to  pay  dividends  as  high  as  15 
per  cent,  per  annum,  the  Magnetic  Company  maintaining  a 
steady  dividend  of  not  less  than  12  per  cent,  for  a  number 
of  years. 


The   Cable  to  Ireland 

AT  the  date  of  the  first  cable  to  Ireland,  two  submarine 
cables  had  already  been  submerged.1  The  first 
serious  attempt  was  that  projected  and  primarily  promoted 
by  the  brothers  Brett  ;  this  was  eventually  carried  to  a 
successful  issue  in  1851,  by  Mr.  Thomas  Russell  Crampton, 
a  civil  engineer  of  distinction.  Prior  to  these,  in  1849, 
an  experimental  line  with  a  gutta-percha  core  had  been 
laid  by  Mr.  C.  V.  Walker,  F.R.S.,  in  the  English  Channel, 
for  some  distance  off  Folkestone.  Also  in  the  following 
year,  another  unprotected  gutta-percha  insulated  conductor 
had  been  laid  between  England  and  France  by  Mr.  Charlton 
Wollaston,  acting  as  engineer  to  the  Submarine  Telegraph 
Company.  Through  want  of  armoured  protection,  both 
of  these  latter  failed  to  be  effective.  The  second  successful 
line  was  that  between  Dover  and  Ostend,  being  also  on 
behalf  of  the  Submarine  Telegraph  Company.2  Thus 

1  Submarine  Telegraphs  :  Their  History,  Construction  and  Working. 
By  Charles  Bright,  F.R.S.E.,  A.M.Inst.C.E.,  M.I.Mech.E.,  M.I.E.E. 
(London:     Crosby  Lockwood  &  Son,   1888). 

2  Since  Bright's  death  this  Company's  cable  system  has  been 
absorbed  by  the  State  and  worked  by  H.M.  Post  Office.     The  transfer 
of  the  business  took  place  in  1889,  and  has  proved  a  serious  matter 
pecuniarily  to  Sir  Charles'  family.     The  late  Sir  Julian  Goldsmid, 
as  chairman,  did  his  best  to  bring  about  a  satisfactory  arrangement ; 
but,  in  the  end,  the  Company  and  its  shareholders  came  off  very 
poorly  at  the  hands  of  the  Government. 



Bright 's  line  to  Ireland  was  the  third  submarine  cable 
communication  successfully  carried  out.  It  was,  however, 
in  much  deeper  water  than  had  hitherto  been  experienced.1 
As  three  previous  attempts  (made  by  others)  to  lay  a  line 
across  the  Irish  Channel  had  failed,  every  care  was  taken 
to  ensure  success. 

THE    ANGLO-IRISH    CABLE,    1853 

An  important  improvement  was  effected  in  the  design 
of  this  cable  as  compared  with  what  immediately  preceded 

1  Referring  to  this  line  in  subsequent  years,  the  late  Lord 
Kelvin — when  speaking  in  regard  to  the  proposed  memorial  to  the 
Inception  of  Submarine  Telegraphy— remarked  : — "Thus,  Sir 
Charles  Bright  was  the  first  to  successfully  lay  a  cable  in  really 
deep  water." 


it.  In  this  case  an  inner  bedding  of  yarn  was  supplied 
for  the  six  insulated  wires  (see  illustration).  The  total 
weight  of  the  cable  was  seven  tons  to  the  mile.  The  manu- 
facture was  carried  out  unaccompanied  by  any  serious 
mishap.  As  fast  as  it  was  made,  it  was  coiled  up  on  the 
wharf  ready  for  shipment.  When  the  time  for  shipment 
came,  the  massive  six-core  cable  was  stowed  away  in  the 
hold  of  the  laying  vessel  in  an  oblong  coil. 

It  so  happened  that  the  submergence  of  this  line  had  to 
take  place  during  the  days  closely  following  upon  Charles 
Bright's  marriage.  The  expedition  was  graced  by  the 
presence  of  his  bride,  who  was  thus  able  to  assist  at  the 
telegraphic  union  of  Great  Britain  and  Ireland.  The 
expedition  consisted  of  the  screw  steamer  William  Hutt 
(with  the  cable  and  apparatus  on  board),  the  Conqueror, 
and  the  Wizard.  The  ships  were  under  the  navigation  con- 
trol of  Captain  Hawes,  R.N.,  especially  appointed  by  the 
Admiralty.  Beside  young  Bright  and  his  bride,  there 
were  on  board  during  the  expedition : — Mr.  Newall,  the 
contractor  ;  Mr.  Statham,  of  the  Gutta-Percha  Company ; 
Mr.  William  Reid,  and  Mr.  T.  B.  Moseley. 

Starting  operations  from  the  Irish  coast,  the  shore  end  of 
the  cable  was  first  landed  at  a  point  about  two  miles  from 
the  south  of  Donaghadee  Harbour,  Co.  Down,  and  the 
laying  of  the  deep-sea  cable  was  then  proceeded  with.  This 
undertaking  was  not,  however,  without  its  vicissitudes. 
The  arrangements  and  apparatus  then  employed  for  sub- 
merging a  cable  were,  it  need  scarcely  be  said,  not  of  the 
complete  character  with  which  experience  has  endowed 


us  to-day.  Each  coil  was  turned  bodily  over  by  the  men 
below  to  take  the  turn  out  in  emerging  to  the  guide  pulley 
above,  whence  it  passed  through  a  rotometer,  or  speed 
measurer,  to  a  large  drum  on  deck.  Round  this  drum 
it  took  several  turns  before  passing  into  the  sea  over  an  iron 
rail  at  the  stern.  The  drum  was  fitted  with  a  flexible  iron 
strap  on  its  circumference,  attached  to  a  lever  hand-brake, 
to  check  the  cable's  rate  of  delivery  outboard.  Without 
this  precaution,  in  the  deeper  water  (nearly  a  quarter  of  a 
mile  in  places)  the  heavy  monster  would  have  "  taken 
charge "  altogether.  As  it  was — when  a  heavyish  sea 
arose  about  midway  across — notwithstanding  the  efforts 
of  the  man  in  the  hold,  one  turn  got  on  several  occasions 
under  another,  making  a  "  foul  flake,"  which  would  pass 
up  in  a  tangled  mass.  This  necessitated  the  stopping 
of  the  ship  and  a  temporary  cessation  of  paying-out  opera- 
tions till  the  great  knot  was  unravelled.  Such  an  opera- 
tion as  this  is  no  easy  matter  when  the  extreme  rigidity  of 
this  heavily  armoured  cable,  with  its  twelve  stout  iron  wires, 
is  considered. 

Thus  it  was  that  the  expedition  did  not  arrive  and  anchor 
off  Port  Patrick,  on  the  southern  border  of  Wigtownshire, 
until  midnight,  the  landing  of  the  shore  end  being  deferred 
till  the  following  morning.  This  final  operation  was 
performed,  amid  much  enthusiasm,  in  Mora  Bay,  a  little 
to  the  north  of  Port  Patrick.  As  soon  as  the  cable  end  had 
been  taken  up  to  the  position  assigned  for  it,  the  signal- 
ling apparatus  was  put  into  operation,  and  the  following 
message  despatched  to  Dublin  :— 



May  2yd,  1853. 

The  Directors  of  the  British  and  Irish  Magnetic  Telegraph 
Company  beg  to  acquaint  His  Excellency  the  Lord  Lieutenant 
that  they  have  this  morning  successfully  effected  communication 
between  the  shores  of  Great  Britain  and  Ireland  by  means  of  a 
submarine  cable  from  Port  Patrick  to  Donaghadee. 

The  cable  lasted,  with  slight  repairs,  for  many  years— 
up  to,  and  long  after,  the  purchase  of  the  Magnetic 
Company's  lines  by  Government,  in  1870. 

In  later  years,  when  referring  to  this  expedition,  Sir 
Charles  Bright  used  to  humorously  remark  that,  so  long 
as  we  had  telegraphic  communication  with  Ireland,  there 
could  be  no  possible  need  for  discussing  the  question  of 
Irish  Home  Rule. 



The  Atlantic  Cable 

Investigations  and  Stepping-Stones 

WE  now  come  to  the  most  arduous,   as  well  as  the 
most  interesting  and  memorable  achievement  of 
Charles  Bright's  career,  namely,  the  telegraphic  linking  of 
England  and  America  by  submarine  cable. 

In  A  Midsummer  Night's  Dream,  Shakespeare  makes 
Puck  say,  "  I'll  put  a  girdle  round  about  the  earth  in  forty 
minutes  !  "  Though  little  Puck  never  carried  out  his  boast, 
the  subject  of  our  memoir  in  the  undertaking  here  referred 
to  went  some  way  towards  realising  it  in  practice.  From 
this  he  acquired  such  fame,  whilst  only  twenty-six  years  old, 
as  few  men  engaged  in  carrying  out  the  great  works  of 
the  world  can  ever  hope  to  attain.  This  achievement  was 
characterised  by  The  Times  as  "  the  accomplishment  of  the 
age,"  and  by  Prof.  Morse  as  "  the  great  feat  of  the  century." 

The  part  Bright  took  in  this  then  unprecedented  enter- 
prise included  the  scientific  demonstration  of  its  practica- 
bility, the  projection,  the  provision  of  capital,  the  organisa- 
tion, and  the  ultimate  successful  laying  of  2,200  miles  of 
cable  across  ocean  depths  of  two  to  three  miles,  in  the 


face  of  storms,  repeated  breakages,  and  every  kind  of 
difficulty.  By  his  scientific  knowledge,  ingenuity,  and 
determined  pluck,  he  carried  it  through  at  a  time  when  only 
a  few  short  cables  had  been  successfully  laid — mostly  in 
comparative^  shallow  water — and  when  the  art  of  submarine 
cable  work  was  in  its  infancy  as  regards  construction,  insula- 
tion, and  mechanical  appliances.  Nothing  so  daring  as 
a  cable  laid  in  an  open  seaway  had,  in  fact,  yet  been  at- 
tempted ;  and  in  his  Presidential  Address  to  the  Institution 
of  Electrical  Engineers,  in  1889,  Lord  Kelvin,  referring  to 
this  undertaking,  said  :  "  We  must  always  feel  indebted  to 
Sir  Charles  Bright  as  the  pioneer  in  that  great  work,  when 
other  engineers  would  not  look  at  it,  and  thought  it  was 
absolutely  impracticable."  Many  at  Bright's  age  would 
have  flinched  at  the  responsibility  with  so  limited  an  ex- 

Before  the  Atlantic  Telegraph  could  assume  a  practical 
shape,  the  following  had  to  be  effected  l  :— 

1.  Ocean  soundings,  showing  the  depths  and  nature  of  the 
sea-bottom,  required  to  be  taken  and  placed  on  record. 

2.  Experiments  had  to  be  made  to  prove  that  a  conductor, 
insulated  with  gutta  percha,  and  of  the  necessary  length  (over 
2,000  miles),  could  be  signalled  through  for  telegraphic  purposes. 

3.  A  suitable  form  of  cable  for  the  specific  purpose  must  be 

4.  Provision  had  to  be  made  to  prevent  competition,  so  that— 
for  some  time,  at  least — a  fair  return  might  accrue  to  those  who 
staked  their  capital  in  what  then  appeared  so  risky  an  enterprise. 

5.  The  confidence  of  the  moneyed  mercantile  class — who  would 

1  The  Story  of  the  Atlantic  Cable.     By  Charles  Bright,  F.R.S.E., 
M.I.E.E.   (London:    George  Newnes,  Ltd.,   1903). 



mostly  benefit  by  such  a   means   of   communication— required 
to  be  won  ;  and 

6.  Government  recognition  had  to  be  obtained,  and,  if  possible, 
Government  subsidies. 

Lieutenant  O.  H.  Berryman,  U.S.N.,  had  run  a  line  of 
deep-sea  soundings  in  the  Atlantic  basin  between  New- 
foundland and  Ireland  in  the  summer  of  1856,  from  the  U.S. 
steamer  Arctic.  The  soundings  gave  a  general  depth  of 
about  two  miles  and  a  half,  gradually  shoaling  on  the  New- 
foundland side,  but  rising  more  quickly  towards  the  Irish 
shore.  The  entire  route  was  marked  by  an  oozy  bottom, 
of  which  specimens  brought  to  the  surface  were  shown 
under  the  microscope  to  consist  of  the  tiny  shells  of  animal- 
cula — the  indestructible  outside  skeletons  of  diatomacea 
and  fomminifem.  No  sand  or  gravel  was  found  on  the  ocean 
bed,  from  which  it  was  deduced  that  no  currents  or  other 
disturbing  elements  existed  at  those  depths.  The  plateau, 
or  ridge,  which  extended  for  some  400  miles  in  breadth,  was, 
in  fact,  considered  a  veritable  feather-bed  for  a  cable, 
when  once  weather  and  other  conditions  allowed  of  its 
safe  submersion.  Lieut.  M.  F.  Maury,  U.S.N.,  Chief  of  the 
National  U.S.  Observatory— to  whom  the  observations  and 
results  of  Lieut.  Berryman  were  referred— made  a  long 
report  to  the  Secretary  of  the  U.S.  Navy,  dated  February 
22,  1854,  in  which  he  remarked  :— 

This  line  of  deep-sea  soundings  seems  to  be  decisive  on  the  ques- 
tion of  the  practicability  of  a  submarine  telegraph  between  the 
two  continents,  in  so  far  as  the  bottom  of  the  deep  sea  is  concerned. 
From  Newfoundland  to  Ireland  the  distance  between  the  nearest 
points  is  about  1,600  miles ;  and  at  the  bottom  of  the  sea  be- 



tween  the  two  places  there  exists  a  "  plateau,"  or  shallow  plat- 
form, which  seems  to  have  been  placed  especially  for  the  purpose 
of  holding  the  wires  of  a  submarine  telegraph,  and  of  keeping  them 
out  of  harm's  way.  .  .  .  But  whether  it  would  be  better  to  lead 
the  wires  from  Newfoundland  or  Labrador  is  not  now  the  point 
at  issue  ;  not  do  I  pretend  to  consider  the  question  as  to  the 
possibility  of  findings  time  calm  enough,  the  sea  smooth  enough, 
a  wire  long  enough,  or  a  ship  big  enough  to  lay  a  coil  of  wire  six- 
teen hundred  miles  in  length.  Still,  I  have  no  fear  but  that  the 
enterprise  and  ingenuity  of  the  age,  whenever  called  upon  to 
solve  these  problems,  will  be  ready  with  a  satisfactory  and  prac- 
tical solution  of  them. 

Similar  conclusions  to  these  were  arrived  at  from  the 
soundings  taken  in  the  North  Atlantic  by  Commander 
Joseph  Dayman,  R.N.,  in  H.M.S.  Cyclops,  a  little  while 

The  possibility  of  laying  an  Atlantic  line  had  taken  firm 
hold  in  the  mind  of  Charles  Bright,  ever  since  the  success- 
ful laying  of  the  cables  to  France,  Ireland,  and  Belgium. 
Between  1853  and  1855,  he  and  his  brother  Edward  had 
(as  already  stated)  carried  on  an  extensive  series  of  experi- 
ments on  the  great  lengths  of  underground  gutta-percha- 
covered  wires  under  their  management.  In  these  wires 
the  conditions  were  similar,  electrically  speaking,  to  those 
existing  in  the  case  of  a  submarine  cable.  By  linking  the 
wires  to  and  fro  between  London  and  Dublin — including 
the  conductors  of  one  of  the  Irish  cables — or  employing 
the  ten  wires  between  London  and  Manchester,  Charles 
Bright  was  enabled  to  extend  these  investigations  until  the 
total  length  under  test  was  upwards  of  2,000  miles.  He  was 
thus  able  to  determine  the  practicability  of  working  through 


a  cable  of  the  length  required  to  connect  Ireland  with  New- 

To  avoid  interrupting  the  traffic,  the  experiment  had  to 
be  made  during  the  night,  or  on  Sundays.  Hence,  on  many 
occasions,  young  Bright  was  unable  to  return  home  at  the 
end  of  a  heavy's  day  work. 

The  inductive  effect  observed  in  the  earlier  stage  of 
these  trials  was  then  an  entirely  novel  phenomenon,  as  was 
also  the  consequent  retardation  of  the  current.  In  1855, 
the  practical  results  of  these  researches  were  included 
in  a  patent  taken  out  by  Charles  Bright  and  his  brother 
for  signalling  through  long  distances  of  gutta-percha- 
insulated  conductors  by  the  employment  of  alternating 

During  these  years  the  Magnetic  Company's  system  had 
been  completed  by  Bright  through  Ireland,  and  extended 
to  the  West  Coast  at  various  points,  including  Limerick, 
Galway,  Sligo,  Portrush,  Tralee,  and  Cape  Clear  Island. 
The  wires  were  erected  mostly  on  the  railways  and  under 
exclusive  agreements  ;  and  a  few  miles'  extension  from  one 
or  other  of  these  stations  would  suffice  to  connect  the  system 
to  an  Atlantic  cable. 

While  Charles  Bright  was  engaged  on  the  completion  of 
his  experiments  preliminary  to  the  great  Atlantic  work, 
his  brother — accompanied  by  some  of  the  "  Magnetic  "  staff — 
took  an  opportunity  of  surveying,  in  the  summer  of  1855, 
the  westernmost  part  of  the  Irish  coast  in  a  fishing  smack, 
for  the  purpose  of  ascertaining  the  best  landing-place  for 
the  proposed  cable.  The  main  conditions  .required  by  Bright 
were  : — 


(1)  Freedom  from  anchorage. 

(2)  Shelter  from  rough  weather. 

(3)  A  smooth  bottom  for  the  heavy  shore  end  of  the  cable, 

and  the  deeper  part  at  the  approach  clear  of  rocks. 

Various  small  harbours  and  bays  between  Bantry  Bay  and 
Ventry  Harbour  were  examined  ;  also  Doulas  Bay,  Valentia, 
leading  up  to  the  Cahirciveen  on  the  mainland.  Valentia 
Harbour  was  eventually  considered  to  best  comply  with 
requirements— beside  being  almost  the  nearest  point  to  the 
outstretched  hand  of  Newfoundland — and  Edward  Bright 
reported  accordingly  to  his  brother  Charles.1 

Whilst  Ireland  was  thus  telegraphically  equipped  as  the 
great  stepping-stone  on  this  side  of  the  ocean,  matters  on  the 
American  side  were  not  so  far  advanced.  The  work  there 
was  much  heavier,  for  it  involved  a  long  land  telegraph  across 
Newfoundland  over  a  very  wild  country. 

In  1852,  Mr.  Frederick  Newton  Gisborne,  an  English 
engineer,  in  concert  with  a  small  American  syndicate,  had 
obtained  an  exclusive  concession  and  sole  cable  landing 
rights  for  thirty  years  in  Newfoundland,  subject  to  the  erec- 
tion of  a  line  between  St.  John's  and  Cape  Ray  in  the  Gulf 
of  St.  Lawrence,  whence  news  and  messages  were  to  be 
passed  to  and  from  Cape  Breton,  on  the  other  side  of  the  Gulf, 
by  steamer  or  carrier  pigeons.  A  few  miles  of  cable  were 
made  in  England,  and  laid  between  Prince  Edward  Island 
and  New  Brunswick  with  much  difficulty.  Mr.  Gisborne 

1  The  selection  has  been  abundantly  justified,  as  may  be  gathered 
from  the  number  of  Atlantic  cables  since  landed  there,  or  in  the 
immediate  vicinity. 


then  surveyed  the  route  for  the  Newfoundland  line,  and 
even  erected  about  forty  miles  of  it.  At  this  stage,  his 
American  associates  stopped  supplies.  When  in  New  York, 
in  1854,  however,  Gisborne  was  fortunately  introduced  to 
Cyrus  West  Field,  a  retired  Merchant.  Mr.  Field  was  a 
man  of  sanguine  temperament  and  intense  business  energy  l ; 
and  having  caught  on  to  the  idea  of  the  Atlantic  Cable,  had 
the  acumen  to  recognise  the  importance  of  turning  to  useful 
purpose  the  exclusive  rights  granted  to  Mr.  Gisborne.  He 
formed  a  strong  syndicate  with  half  a  dozen  friends,  and 
procured  a  concession  with  improved  terms. 

Armed  with  this  apparent  monopoly,  but  as  his  brother, 
Mr.  Henry  Field,  expressed  it,  "  with  no  experience  in  the 
business  of  laying  a  submarine  telegraph,"  the  presiding  genius 
of  this  Newfoundland  Company  was  despatched  to  England 
at  the  end  of  1854,  where  he  ordered  a  cable  of  about  eighty 
miles,  to  span  the  Gulf  of  St.  Lawrence  between  Cape  Ray 
and  the  Island  of  Cape  Breton.  There  he  became  acquainted 
with  Mr.  John  Watkins  Brett,  who,  with  his  brother  Jacob, 
had  taken  the  foremost  part  in  establishing  the  first  lines 
to  France  and  Belgium.  In  the  spring  of  1855,  Mr.  Brett 
took  £5,000  in  shares  and  bonds  in  the  "  Newfoundland  " 
Company,  thus  becoming  a  partner  on  equal  terms  with 
Mr.  Field  and  the  other  members  of  the  syndicate. 

The  attempt  to  lay  the  Cape  Breton  cable  was  a  failure, 

1  In  his  1887  Inaugural  Address  to  the  Society  of  Telegraph 
Engineers  (now  the  Institution  of  Electrical  Engineers),  Sir  Charles 
described  Mr.  Field  as  "  rapid  in  thinking  and  acting,  and  endowed 
with  courage  and  perseverance  under  difficulties— qualities  which 
are  rarely  met  with  "  (see  Journal  I.E.E.,  vol.  xvi.,  p.  7). 


partly  owing  to  rough  weather.  But  in  the  following  year 
the  Contractors  (Messrs.  Glass,  Elliot  &  Co.)  successfully 
accomplished  the  task;  and  in  1856  the  aerial  land  line 
was  stretched  across  Newfoundland. 

Thus,  then,  the  series  of  stepping-stones  were  now  also 
completed  on  the  American  side. 

Formation  of  the  Company  and  Construction  of  the  Cable 

The  next  step  towards  the  realisation  of  the  enterprise, 
in  which  Charles  Bright's  energy  was  centred,  had  better 
be  told  in  his  own  words  :  * 

In  July,  1856,  Mr.  Cyrus  Field,  the  deputy-chairman  of  the 
New  York  and  Newfoundland  Telegraph  Company,  left  America 
for  London,  empowered  by  his  associates  to  deal  with  the  ex- 
clusive concession  possessed  by  that  Company  for  the  coast  of 
Newfoundland  and  other  rights  in  Nova  Scotia.  He  had  been 
here  before  about  telegraph  business,  and  I  had  discussed  the 
Atlantic  line  with  him  in  the  previous  year. 

On  September  2gth,  1856,  an  agreement  was  entered  into  be- 
tween Mr.  Brett,  Mr.  Field,  and  myself,  by  which  we  mutually,  and 
on  equal  terms,  engaged  to  exert  ourselves  with  the  view  to,  and  for 
the  purpose  of,  forming  a  Company  for  establishing  and  working 
of  electric  telegraphic  communication  between  Newfoundland  and 
Ireland,  such  Company  to  be  called  the  "  Atlantic  Telegraph  Com- 
pany," or  by  such  other  name  as  the  parties  hereto  shall  jointly 
agree  upon. 

1  Sir  Charles  Bright's  Presidential  Address  to  the  Society  of 
Telegraph  Engineers  and  Electricians,  1887. 


We  here  reproduce  the  signatures  as  they  are  at  the  foot 
of  this  agreement :— 

The  above  "  promoters  and  projectors  "  were  a  little 
later  joined  by  Mr.  Edward  Orange  Wildman  Whitehouse, 
originally  a  medical  practitioner.  Mr.  Whitehouse  had  been 
engaged  for  some  time  upon  experiments  similar  to  those 
on  which  the  brothers  Bright  had  worked,  with  a  view  to 
overcoming  the  difficulties  incidental  to  long  distance 
ocean  telegraphy. 

The  time  had  now  come  for  action.  As  a  result  of  con- 
siderable discussion,  the  two  Governments  concerned 
came  to  recognise  the  grandeur  and  feasibility  of  this  un- 
dertaking for  linking  together  the  two  English-speaking 
nations,  and  the  benefits  it  would  confer  upon  humanity. 
Both  the  English  and  United  States  Governments  gave  a 
subsidy,  which  jointly  amounted  to  eight  per  cent,  on  the 
capital,  but  payable  only  while  the  cable  worked. 


The  Atlantic  Telegraph  Company  was  registered  on 
October  20th,  1856. 

The  Magnetic  Company,  under  the  management  of 
Charles  Bright,  had  proved  a  success  from  its  foundation 
in  1852.  The  lines  had  been  constructed,  and  the  staff 
trained,  under  his  supervision  ;  while  the  improved  tele- 
graphic apparatus,  and  appliances  employed,  were  devised 
by  him.  The  headquarters  were  in  Liverpool  ;  and  the 
shareholders  were  composed  of  .  the  leading  merchants 
and  shipowners  there,  as  well  as  in  Manchester,  London, 
Glasgow  and  Dublin.  The  Magnetic  Company's  Board 
was  composed  of  practical  business  men,  who  fully  appre- 
ciated the  immense  advantages  which  direct  communication 
with  America  would  bring  them,  not  only  as  regards  their 
trade,  but  on  account  of  increased  traffic  over  the  "  Mag- 
netic "  lines,  which  alone  extended  through  Ireland.  The 
directors  had  also  acquired  thorough  confidence  in  their 
comparatively  youthful  engineer,  whilst  appreciating  the 
value  of  the  experiments  and  scientific  investigations  which 
he  had  carried  out. 

The  first  meeting  of  the  "  Atlantic "  Company  was 
convened  for  November  I2th,  1856,  at  the  Underwriters' 
Rooms  in  the  Exchange,  Liverpool,  by  a  small  circular,  on 
a  half-sheet  of  notepaper,  issued  by  Mr.  Edward  Bright 
from  the  Magnetic  Company's  chief  office.  Most  of  the 
enterprise,  influence,  and  wealth  of  the  town  were  repre- 
sented, and  the  inspiriting  addresses  of  Messrs.  Field  and 
Brett,  accompanied  by  the  scientific  explanations  (and 
answers  to  questions)  of  Charles  Bright,  were  exceedingly 
well  received. 


So  much  enthusiasm  had  been  aroused  by  the  experi- 
ments and  explanations  already  alluded  to,  that  in  the 
course  of  a  few  days  the  entire  capital  was  raised  by 
the  issue  of  350  shares  of  £1,000  each,  chiefly  taken  up 
by  the  shareholders  of  the  Magnetic  Company.  The 
public  lists  were  opened  at  the  latter's  headquarters  in 
the  Exchange,  Liverpool,  and  at  their  other  principal 
offices.  The  first  to  put  down  their  names  were  Charles 
Bright  and  two  old  friends,  Mr.  Joseph  Hubback  (Mayor 
of  Liverpool),  and  Mr.  Charles  Pickering  (of  Messrs. 
Schroder  &  Co.),  the  two  former  for  £2,000  each,  and 
the  latter  for  £6,000.  Subsequently,  Mr.  J.  W.  Brett, 
who  was  a  man  of  wealth,  took  up  shares  to  the  value 
of  £25,000,  Mr.  Field  following  his  example  for  a  similar 

The  formation  of  the  Company  was  absolutely  unique 
at  the  time,  and  formed  a  fit  complement  to  the  grandeur 
of  the  enterprise.  There  was  no  promotion  money ;  no 
prospectus  was  published.  There  were  no  advertisements, 
no  brokers,  and  no  commissions  were  paid ;  nor  were 
there  either  board  of  directors  or  executive  officers.  The 
election  of  a  Board  was  left  to  a  meeting  of  shareholders, 
to  be  held  after  the  allotment  of  shares  had  been  made 
by  a  provisional  committee.  Any  remuneration  of  the 
projectors  was  made  wholly  dependent  upon,  and  subject 
to,  the  profits  of  the  shareholders  amounting  to  10  per 
cent,  per  annum,  the  surplus  being  then  divided  between 
the  promoters  and  the  Company. 

To  show  the  interest  taken  in  the  scheme,  even  those 
entirely  unconnected  with  business  took  shares,  among 


others  being  the  widow  of  Lord  Byron,  and  Mr.  Thackeray 
the  author. 

Mr.  Field  had  reserved  £75,000  for  American  subscrip- 
tion, for  which  he  signed,  in  addition  to  what  he  took  for 
himself ;  but  his  confidence  in  his  compatriots  turned 
out  to  be  greatly  misplaced.  The  result  has  been  thus 
told  by  Mr.  Henry  Field l : — 

In  taking  so  large  a  share  it  was  not  his  intention  to 
carry  this  load  alone.  It  was  too  large  a  proportion  for 
one  man.  But  he  took  it  for  his  countrymen.  He  thought 
one-fourth  of  the  stock  should  be  held  in  this  country  (the 
United  States)  and  he  did  not  doubt,  from  the  eagerness  with 
which  three-fourths  had  been  taken  in  England,  that  the 
remainder  would  be  at  once  subscribed  in  America. 

It  was  only,  in  fact,  after  much  trouble  that  subscribers 
were  obtained  in  America  for  a  total  of  twenty-seven  shares — 
or  less  than  one-twelfth  of  the  total  capital.  The  faith 
of  the  Americans  in  the  project  proved  to  be  small ;  for— 
notwithstanding  their  confessed  enthusiasm — they  certainly 
did  not  readily  rise  to  the  occasion,  and  when  they  did 
so  it  was  only  after  considerable  pressure. 

The  negotiations  with  Government  led  to  important 
results,  which  were  thus  embodied  in  a  letter  :— 


November   loth,    1856. 

Having  laid  before  the  Lords  Commissioners  of  Her  Majesty's 
Treasury  your  letter  of  the  I5th  ult.,  addressed  to  the  Earl  of 

1  Brother  of  Mr.  Cyrus  Field.   He  subsequently  wrote  an  animating 
description  of  the  enterprise. 


Clarendon,  requesting  certain  privileges  and  protection  in  regard 
to  the  line  of  telegraph  which  it  is  proposed  to  establish  between 
Newfoundland  and  Ireland,  I  am  directed  by  their  Lordships 
to  inform  you  that  they  are  prepared  to  enter  into  a  contract, 
based  upon  the  following  conditions,  viz. — 

1.  It  is  understood  that  the  capital  required  to  lay  down  the 
line  will  be  (£350,000)  three  hundred  and  fifty  thousand  pounds. 

2.  Her  Majesty's  Government  engage  to  furnish  the  aid  of 
ships  to  take  what  soundings  may  still  be  considered  needful,  or 
to  verify  those  already  taken,  and  favourably  to  consider  any 
request  that  may  be  made  to  furnish  aid  by  their  vessels  in  laying 
down  the  cable. 

3.  The  British  Government,  from  the  time  of  the  connection 
of  the  line,  and  so  long  as  it  shall  continue  in  working  order, 
undertakes  to  pay  at  the  rate  of   (£14,000)  fourteen  thousand 
pounds  a  year,  being  at  the  rate  of  four  per  cent,  on  the  assumed 
capital,  as  a  fixed  remuneration  for  the  work  done  on  behalf  of 
the  Government,  in  the  conveyance  outward  and  homeward  of 
their  messages.     This  payment  to  continue  until  the  net  profits 
of  the  proposed  Company  are  equal  to  a  dividend  of  six  pounds 
per  cent,  per  annum,  when  the  payment  shall  be  reduced  to 
(£10,000)  ten  thousand  pounds  a  year,  for  a  period  of  twenty-five 
years.    • 

It  is,  however,  understood  that  if  the  Government  messages 
in  any  year  shall,  at  the  usual  tariff  charged  to  the  public, 
amount  to  a  larger  sum,  such  additional  payment  shall  be  made 
as  equivalent  thereto. 

4.  That  the  British  Government  shall  have  a  priority  in  the 
conveyance  of  their  messages  over  all  others,  subject  to  the  excep- 
tion only  of  the  Government  of  the  United  States,  in  the  event 
of  their  entering  into  an  arrangement  with  the  Telegraph  Com- 
pany similar  in  principle  to  that  of  the  British  Government,  in 
which  case  the  messages  of  the  two  Governments   shall  have 
priority  in  the  order  in  which  they  arrive  at  the  stations. 

5.  That  the  tariff  of  charges  shall  be  fixed  with  the  consent 


of  the  Treasury,  and  shall  not  be  increased,  without  such  con- 
sent  being  obtained,   as   long  as  this  contract  lasts. 

I  am,  Sir, 

Your  obedient  servant, 


The  first  meeting  of  shareholders  took  place  on  December 
gth,  1856,  and  a  board  of  directors  was  elected.  The  first 
chairman  was  Mr.  Brown,  M.P.  (afterwards  Sir  William 
Brown,  Bart.),  Mr.  Samuel  Gurney,  M.P.,  and  after  him 
Mr.  T.  H.  Brooking,  being  deputy-chairman,  whilst  Mr. 
Lampson  (later  Sir  Curtis  Lampson,  Bart.)  was  vice-chair- 
man. At  a  subsequent  date  the  chair  was  occupied  by  the 
Right  Hon.  James  Stuart- Wortley,  M.P. 

To  instance  the  large  part  taken  by  the  Magnetic  Company 
in  this  undertaking,  no  less  than  ten  of  the  Board  of  the 
"  Atlantic "  were  also  directors  or  shareholders  of  the 
"  Magnetic,"  prominent  amongst  them  being  Mr.  Brett 
and  Mr.  (afterwards  Sir  John)  Pender,  who  was  ultimately 
associated  with  so  many  cable  enterprises. 

Professor  William  Thomson,  of  Glasgow — afterwards 
Lord  Kelvin,  G.C.V.O.,  F.R.S.— was  a  tower  of  scientific 
strength  on  the  Board.  He  had  been  from  the  outset  a 
great  believer  in  the  Atlantic  Cable,  having,  indeed,  stated 
his  views  as  to  its  practicability  before  the  Royal  Society 
in  the  year  1854.  His  acquisition  as  a  director  was 
destined  to  prove  of  vast  importance  in  influencing  the 
development  of  trans-oceanic  communication  ;  for  his 
subsequent  experiments  on  the  Atlantic  Cable  during 
1857-58  led  up  to  his  invention  of  the  mirror  galvanometer 
and  signalling  instrument,  whereby  the  most  attenuated 


currents  of  electricity,  which  were  incapable  of  producing 
visible  signals  on  other  telegraph  apparatus,  were  so  magni- 
fied in  their  effect  by  reflection  as  to  be  readily  legible. 

Charles  Bright  was  appointed  Engineer-in-Chief  by  the 
Board,  with  Mr.  Whitehouse  as  Electrician.  Mr.  Cyrus  Field 
became  the  General  Manager,  and  later,  Managing  Director. 

The  chart  on  next  page  (a  reproduction  of  the  original) 
shows  the  route  proposed  and  adopted  for  the  cable, 
together  with  the  line  of  soundings  taken  by  Lieut. 
Berryman  and  Commander  Dayman. 

Charles  Bright  recommended  a  cable  with  a  much  larger 
copper  conductor  than  had  ever  been  used  before,  weighing, 
in  fact,  3!  cwt.  (392  Ib.)  per  nautical  mile,  and  the  same 
weight  of  gutta-percha  for  the  insulator,  but  he  found  that 
this  point  had  been  settled  and  the  contract  given  out 
before  he  became  engineer.1  Indeed,  a  provisional  commit- 
tee of  those  registering  the  Company  had  in  their  anxiety 
to  save  time — and  to  enable  the  work  to  be  carried  out 
during  the  summer  of  1857— entered  into  contracts  for  a 
cable  with  only  107  Ib.  of  copper  conductor  per  nautical 
mile  and  261  Ib.  of  gutta-percha  insulation.  It  is  true 
that  the  core  specified  by  Charles  Bright  would  have  weighed 
on  the  2,500  miles  of  cable  to  be  shipped  about  460  tons 
more  ;  but  the  cable  having  upwards  of  3^  times  the  con- 
ducting power  the  signalling  speed  he  calculated  on  from 

1  On  being  consulted  by  the  Government  in  regard  to  the  pro- 
posed Falmouth-Gibraltar  line  in  1859,  Bright  recommended  the 
same  core  as  above.  In  this  instance  he  had  the  satisfaction  of 
seeing  his  recommendation  adopted,  though  the  cable  was  ultimately 
applied  to  connecting  up  Malta  and  Alexandria. 



the  preceding  experiments  would  then  have  been  realised— 
besides  which  the  insulation  would  have  been  more  reliable. 
Unfortunately,  those  who  had  arranged  for  the  smaller 
core  were  fully  supported  by  Mr.  Whitehouse's  views ; 
which,  moreover,  received  entire  approval  from  that  great 
electrical  savant,  Michael  Faraday,  as  well  as  from  Pro- 
fessor Morse.  The  latter  reported  that  "  large  coated 
wires  used  beneath  the  water,  or  the  earth,  are  worse  con- 
ductors— so  far  as  velocity  of  transmission  is  concerned — 
than  small  ones  ;  and  therefore  are  not  so  well  suited  as 
smaU  ones  for  the  purposes  of  submarine  transmission  of 


telegraphic  signals."  Not  so,  however,  Professor  Thomson, 
who  had  previously  crossed  swords  with  Mr.  Whitehouse 
in  connection  with  the  latter's  B.A.  paper  of  1854,  on 
"  Experimental  Observations  on  an  Electric  Cable."  Mr. 
Whitehouse  appeared  to  consider  a  low  inductive  capacity 
as  the  one  and  only  point  to  be  aimed  at  in  the  design  of 
a  submarine  conductor,  without  regard  to  the  resistance 
offered  by  the  wire  to  an  electric  current.  On  his  appoint- 
ment as  engineer,  Charles  Bright  made  every  effort  to 
get  the  contract  altered  in  favour  of  the  larger  conductor 
which  he  had  recommended ;  but  this  change  was  not 
-CQ^dered  practicable,  as  it  would  have  meant  the  raising 
of  a  considerable  amount  of  further  capital. 



What  the  actual  manufacture  of  the  cable  alone  entailed, 
the  following  detailed  description  will  serve  to  show : — 

The  conductor,  weighing  107  Ib.  per  nautical  mile,  con- 
sisted of  seven  strands  of  copper  wire,  each  of  No.  22  gauge, 
covered  with  261  Ib.  of  gutta-percha,  in  three  separate 
layers,  r8  to  No.  'oo  B.W.G.  f  inch.  This  insulated 
core  was  then  served  spirally  with  hemp  yarn  saturated 
with  a  preservative  composition  of  tar,  pitch,  linseed  oil, 
and  wax.  The  core  was  next  protected  by  an  armour  of 
eighteen  iron  strands,  each  composed  of  seven  fine  wires 
also  of  No.  22  gauge,  wound 
around1  in  a  long  spiral.2  The 
finished  cable  then  received  a 
coating  of  a  cold  mixture  (re- 
ferred to  further  on)  of  tar, 
pitch  and  linseed  oil.  Its  weight 
in  air  was  about  20  cwt.,  and  in 
water  13^  cwt.,  with  a  breaking 
strain  of  about  13!-  tons. 


1  The  manner  in  which  the  specimens  had  been  given  out  for 
tender  by  the  original  provisional  committee  to  the  different  firms, 
led  to  the  wires  being  eventually  applied  with  an  opposite  lay  at  the 
two  sheathing  factories.     On  Charles  Bright  becoming  engineer  he 
learnt  what  had  been  done  by  the  Committee.     The  matter  was  not, 
however,  considered  to  be  serious,  neither  was  it  found  so  afterwards. 

2  This  particular  type  of  iron  sheathing  was  adopted  partly  at 
the  suggestion  of  the  late  Mr.  Isambard  Kingdom  Brunei,  F.R.S., 
one  of  the  greatest  engineers  of  the  day.     Mr.  Glass  also  strongly 
recommended  it.     Nowadays,  such  wires  would  be  considered  too 
fine,  besides  the  stranding  being,  on  the  whole,  undesirable  ;   but  at 
that  time  there  was  great  difficulty  in  obtaining  a  high-class  wire 
from  larger  gauges. 


For  each  end  approaching  the  shore,  the  sheathing  (see 
illustration)  consisted  of  twelve  wires  of  No.  o  gauge,  mak- 
ing the  total  weight  over  eight  tons  to  the  mile.  This  type 
was  adopted  for  the  first  ten  miles  from  the  Irish  coast, 
and  for  fifteen  miles  from  the  landing  at  Newfoundland,  at 
both  of  which  localities  rocks  had  been  found  to  abound 

Only  six  months  was  allowed  for  the  manufacturers  to 
complete  the  2,500  miles.  This  involved  the  preparation 
and  drawing  of  17,500  miles  of  copper  and  stranding  it  into 
the  2,500  miles  of  conductor.  Then  the  three  separate 
coatings  of  gutta-percha  had  to  be  applied  outside,  and 
subsequently  the  yarn.  Finally  315,000  miles  of  char- 
coal-iron wire  had  to  be  drawn  and  laid  up  into  45,000 
miles  of  strand,  and  the  core  then  to  be  covered  with 
it.  The  entire  length  of  copper  and  iron  wire  employed 
was  therefore  322,500  miles — enough  to  engirdle  the  earth 
thirteen  times,  and  considerably  more  than  enough  to 
extend  from  the  earth  to  the  moon. 

The  manufacture  of  the  core  was  entrusted  to  the  Gutta- 
Percha  Company,  and  that  for  the  outer  sheathing  divided 
between  Messrs.  Glass,  Elliot  &  Co.,  and  Messrs.  R.  S. 
Newall  &  Co.,  the  former  to  cover  half  the  cable  with  its 
outer  sheath  at  East  Greenwich,  and  the  latter  to  treat 
the  other  half  at  Birkenhead,  these  firms  being  practically 
the  only  manufacturers  of  that  description  at  the  time. 
This  subdivision  of  labour  (by  giving  half  the  contract  to 
Messrs.  Newall)  was  decided  upon  in  order,  in  the  first 
place,  to  complete  the  work  within  the  appointed  time  ;  and 


secondly,  with  a  view  to  checking  threatened  opposition. 
This  was  a  somewhat  prejudicial  arrangement,  as  it  precluded 
any  testing  or  trial  of  the  entire  length  until  the  ships 
met  at  Queenstown  ;  but  Mr.  Field  and  some  of  his  associates 
were  anxious  to  hurry  on.  Their  sole  aim  was  to  get  the 
immense  length  of  cable  made  and  laid  the  following  summer 
—a  few  months  only  after  it  was  actually  ordered. 

The  construction  of  the  line  was  commenced  with  all 
despatch  at  the  three  factories. 

When  once  the  wheels  had  been  fairly  set  in  motion,  it 
was  necessary  for  Charles  Bright  to  gather  round  him  a 
competent  staff  of  engineers,  ready  for  the  expedition. 
First  of  all,  as  his  chief  assistant,  he  secured  the  services 
of  Mr.  Samuel  Canning,  who  had  laid  the  Gulf  of  St. 
Lawrence  cable  for  Messrs.  Glass  &  EUiot,  in  the  preceding 
year.  The  next  place  was  filled  by  Mr.  William  Henry 
Woodhouse,  who  had  laid  cables  for  Mr.  Brett  in  the  Mediter- 
ranean. Then  came  Mr.  F.  C.  Webb,  who  had  probably 
been  associated — in  one  capacity  or  another — with  more 
early  cable  work  than  any  other  single  telegraph  engineer. 
Finally,  Mr.  Henry  Clifford  joined.  He  was  a  cousin  of 
the  Taylors,  and  was  in  this  way  introduced  to  the  under- 
taking, besides  being  a  mechanical  engineer  of  considerable 

A  few  extracts  from  Charles  Bright's  diary  may  here  be 
of  interest,  as  showing  the  arduous  and  constant  vigilance 
necessary  in  superintending  the  manufacture  :— 

January  ist,  1857. — At  Greenwich  (Glass  &  Elliot's),  saw 
sample  cable  60  ft.  long  spun  off.  Considered  about  keeping 
the  wire  in  tank  either  always  covered  with  water  or  always 


dry.  Appointment  with  Edgington's  re  tarpaulin  for  covering 
coils.  Talked  with  Canning  as  to  undertaking  part  of  charge  of 
paying-out  machinery.  Appointment  for  test  cable. 

Saturday,  yd. — To  Brown  &  Lenox's,  at  Millwall,  at  one 
to  test  cable  with  Glass.  Two  samples  broke  off  at  the  clamp, 
not  fair  trial ;  fresh  appointment  for  Tuesday. 

Tuesday,  6th.— -To  Brown  &  Lenox's  to  test  cable  ;  stood  up 
to  3  tons  ii  cwt.  Then  to  Greenwich,  testing  joints. 

Monday,  igth.  To  Gutta-Percha  Works  in  morning,  then  to 
Greenwich.  Spinning  started  with  one  machine.  Discussion 
as  to  tacpaulin  covering.  Edgington's  want  £350  for  six  months' 
rent  of  tarpaulins. 

Friday,  2yd. — Tar-pitch  mixture  (cold)  answers  very  well  for 
coating  (with  a  brush)  outside  of  cable,  as  a  preservative  against 

January  27  th. — 3  barrels  tar          \ 

|  barrel  pitch,  Preservative  mixture 

12  Ib.  beeswax,  (       decided  on. 

6  gallons  linseed  oil./ 
Twelve  or  thirteen  gallons  per  mile. 

All  the  contractors  concerned  in  this  work  were  ready 
with  their  supply  within  the  time  stipulated. 

Among  the  illustrious  visitors  at  Greenwich  during  the 
construction  were  the  Prince  of  Wales  (now  His  Majesty 
the  King)  and  Prince  Alfred  (afterwards  Duke  of  Edinburgh). 
Both  evinced  a  lively  interest  in  the  work,  and  carefully 
studied  each  stage  of  the  manufacture,  young  Bright  having 
the  honour  of  acting  as  "  showman." 


Ships,  Stowage,  and  Departure  for  Valentia 

Charles  Bright  was  but  twenty-four  years  old  at  the 
time  when  he  was  appointed  Chief  Engineer  to  carry  out 
this  important  and  far-reaching  enterprise — enabling  the 
people  of  two  great  Continents  to  speak  together,  in  a  few 
moments  of  time,  though  separated  by  a  vast  ocean. 

The  work  involved  was  enormous,  and  few  engineers 
have,  at  his  age,  been  placed  in  a  position  of  such  heavy 

MR.    C.    T.    BRIGHT 
(From  the  Illustrated  London  News  at  this  period) 

Improved  paying-out  machinery  to  suit  the  great  depths 
required  to  be  devised.  He  had  to  select  ships  suitable 
to  carry  two  thousand  five  hundred  miles  of  cable,  and  to 
prepare  them  to  receive  it,  together  with  the  requisite 
machinery,  so  arranging  the  distribution  of  weight  as  to 
keep  them  fairly  in  trim.  In  addition  there  was  the  neces- 
sity for  more  or  less  constant  attendance  on  the  directors 



—meeting  as  they  did  almost  daily — and  the  preparation 

of  frequent  reports. 


It  was  just  about  this  time — the  end  of  1856 — that  the 
scene  of  young  Bright's  home  was  changed  from  South- 
port,  near  Liverpool,  to  The  Cedars,  near  Harrow. 

Soon  after  becoming  engineer  to  the  undertaking,  in 
conjunction  with  the  authorities  of  the  Admiralty,  he  had 


visited  and  inspected  various  ships.  Eventually  H.M.S. 
Agamemnon  was  selected  and  placed  by  Government  at 
the  service  of  the  Company.  She  proved  to  be  splendidly 
adapted,  by  her  very  peculiar  construction,  for  the  service 
of  receiving  the  cable.  In  this  capacious  receptacle  nearly 
half  the  cable  was  stowed  away.  She  was  a  screw-pro- 
pelled line-of-battle  ship  of  ninety-one  guns,  and  one  of  the 
finest  in  our  navy.  She  was  to  do  more  during  her  coming 
mission  to  bring  about  the  reign  of  peace — by  drawing 


together  in  closer  communion  the  several  nations  of  the 
earth — than  any  man-of-war  was  ever  called  to  do,  before 
or  after.  The  American  Government,  after  five  months' 
hesitation,  sent  over  the  largest  and  finest  ships  of  their 
navy,  the  U.S.  frigate  Niagara,  a  screw-corvette,  which, 
with  her  tonnage  of  5,200,  exceeded  in  size  our  largest  line- 
of-battle  ship.  Unfortunately,  the  Niagara  had  to  ex- 
perience much  cutting  about  to  enable  her  to  accommo- 
date the  required  length  of  cable.  As  a  consort,  the  U.S. 
paddle  frigate  Susquehanna  was  also  detailed  for  the  expe- 
dition. H.M.S.  Leopard  was  similarly  provided  by  our 
Government,  whilst  H.M.  sounding  vessel  Cyclops  was  to 
precede  this  little  fleet,  to  show  the  way. 

During  the  short  time  left,  Charles  Bright  devised  ap- 
paratus for  paying  out  the  cable  on  a  somewhat  different 
principle  from  that  which  had  hitherto  been  in  use  for  laying 
cables  in  comparatively  shallow  water.  This  was  ren- 
dered necessary  on  account  of  the  fresh  conditions.  More- 
over, the  apparatus  previously  in  vogue  was  of  a  rather 
primitive  kind,  consisting  of  a  drum,  round  which  the  cable 
was  coiled  several  times,  with  a  brake  strap  surrounding 
it,  regulated  by  a  hand  lever  upon  a  more  or  less  "  rule  of 
thumb  "  system.  This  arrangement  had  repeatedly  broken 
down,  notably  in  1854  in  the  Mediterranean,  when  the 
cable  slipped  upon  the  surface  of  the  brake-drum  used 
to  check  it,  and  flew  out  of  the  vessel  with  great  force, 
cutting  its  way  through  the  bulwarks  of  the  ship  in  its 
passage.  The  same  trouble  of  the  cable  surging  and 
"  taking  charge  "  with  the  above  rough  and  ready  appli- 



ances,  also  occurred  between  Sardinia  and  Algeria  in  the 

following  year. 

Bright's  machinery  for  regulating  the  egress  of  the  cable 
from  the  laying  vessels  was  constructed  with  a  view  to  (i) 
the  great  depth  of  water  to  be  passed  over,  (2)  the  constant 
strain,  and  (3)  the  number  of  days  during  which  the  opera- 
tion must  unceasingly  be  in  progress.  There  were  also 
arrangements  by  means  of  which  picking  up  could  be 
effected  from  the  bows,  and  the  cable  taken  aft  to  the 
"  winding-in  "  machine. 

In  connection  with  this  undertaking  Charles  Bright 
further  invented  a  patent  log,  a  wheel  of  which  was  "  ar- 
ranged to  make  and  break  an  electric  circuit  at  every 
revolution."  A  gutta-percha-covered  wire  was  run  up 
from  the  revolving  wheel  on  to  the  deck  of  the  ship,  so  that 
it  should  carry  the  current  whenever  the  circuit  was  com- 
pleted, and  record  there  (upon  a  piece  of  apparatus  pro- 
vided for  the  purpose)  the  speed  of  the  vessel. 

It  had  previously  been  intended  to  start  laying  the  cable 
by  both  ships  simultaneously  from  mid-ocean,  and  Charles 
Bright,  backed  by  his  immediate  staff— as  well  as  by  all 
the  nautical  authorities  concerned— strongly  urged  this 
course.  The  electrician,  Mr.  E.  O.  Wildman  Whitehouse, 
however— whose  health  did  not  permit  him  to  sail  with  the 
expedition— together  with  the  other  electricians,  urged 
that  one  ship  commencing  to  pay  out  from  Ireland,  the 
other  should  continue  the  work  when  the  first  had  used 
up  all  her  cable.  This  course  necessarily  doubled  the  time 
taken  in  laying,  and  left  the  junction  between  the  two  cable 
ends  to  be  effected  in  the  deepest  water,  when  it  might 



be  impracticable  through  rough  weather.  Yet  such  was 
the  anxiety  of  the  Board  to  keep  in  touch  with  the  expe- 
dition, for  daily  reports  of  progress,  that  they  followed  the 
counsel  of  the  electricians.1 

By  the  third  week  in  July  (within  the  course  of  as  many 
weeks)  the  great  ships  had  received  all  their  precious  cargo— 
the  Agamemnon  in  the  Thames,  and  the  Niagara  in  the 

Then  came  some  farewell  feastings.  It  seemed  to  be 
considered  a  suitable  occasion  for  giving  a  banquet  in  honour 
of  Bright  and  others  about  to  take  part  in  the  laying  of  the 

A  few  days  later,  the  last  coil  of  cable  having  been 
shipped  on  the  Agamemnon  from  the  Greenwich  Works, 
the  occasion  was  duly  honoured  by  a  scene  as  unique  as  it 
was  beautiful. 

To  quote  The  Times  of  July  24th  :— 

All  the  details  connected  with  the  manufacture  and  stowage 
of  the  cable  are  now  completed,  and  the  conclusion  of  the  arduous 
labour  was  celebrated  yesterday  with  high  festivity  and  rejoicing. 
All  the  artisans  who  have  been  engaged  on  the  great  work,  with 
their  wives  and  families,  a  large  party  of  the  officers,  with  the 
sailors  from  the  Agamemnon,  and  a  number  of  distinguished 
scientific  visitors,  were  entertained  upon  this  occasion  at  a  kind 
of  fete  champetre  at  Belvedere  House,  the  seat  of  Sir  Culling 
Eardley,  near  Erith.  Although  in  no  way  personally  interested 
in  the  project,  the  honourable  baronet  has  all  along  evinced  the 
liveliest  sympathy  with  the  undertaking.  The  tradespeople, 

1  Charles  Bright's  plan  was,  however,  adopted  in  the  expedition 
of  the  following  year. 


fired  with  generous  emulation,  erected  spacious  tents  on  the  lawn 
and  provided  a  magnificent  banquet  for  the  guests,  and  a  sub- 
stantial one  for  the  sailors  of  the  Agamemnon  and  the  artificers 
who  had  been  employed  in  the  construction  of  the  cable.  By 
an  admirable  arrangement,  the  guests  were  accommodated  at  a 
vast  semicircular  table  which  ran  round  the  whole  pavilion, 
while  the  sailors  and  workmen  sat  at  right  angles  with  the  chord, 
so  that  the  general  effect  was  that  all  lunched  together,  while  at 
the  same  time  sufficient  distinction  was  preserved  to  satisfy  the 
most  fastidious.  The  three  centre  tables  were  occupied  by  the 
crew  of  the  Agamemnon,  a  fine  active  body  of  men,  who  paid 
the  greatest  attention  to  the  speeches,  and  drank  all  the  toasts 
with  remarkable  punctuality — at  least,  so  long  as  their  three 
pints  of  beer  per  man  lasted.  But  we  regret  to  add  that  with 
the  heat  of  the  day  and  the  enthusiasm  of  Jack  in  the  cause  of 
science,  the  mugs  were  all  empty  long  before  the  chairman's 
list  of  toasts  had  been  gone  through.  Next  in  interest  to  the 
sailors  were  the  workmen  and  their  wives  and  babies,  all  being 
permitted  to  assist.  The  latter,  it  is  true,  sometimes  squalled 
at  an  affecting  peroration,  but  that  rather  improved  the  effect 
than  otherwise  ;  and  the  presence  of  their  little  ones  only  marked 
the  genuine  good  feeling  of  the  employers,  who  had  thus  invited 
not  only  their  workmen  but  their  workmen's  families  to  the  feast. 
It  was  a  momentary  return  to  the  old  patriarchal  times,  and  every 
one  present  seemed  delighted  with  the  experiment. 

These  festivities  having  come  to  an  end,  the  Agamemnon 
set  out  for  Sheerness  to  adjust  compasses.  The  Observer 
in  a  report  stated  :— 

When  leaving  her  moorings,  opposite  Glass  &  Elliot's  Works, 
the  scene  was  one  of  considerable  interest.  Many  thousands  of 
persons  thronged  the  river  side  as  far  as  Greenwich  Hospital. 
In  the  immediate  neighbourhood  of  the  factory  a  salute  was 
fired  as  the  proud  vessel  moved  away,  and  a  deafening  cheer 


was  raised  by  the  assembled  crowds.  The  crew  of  H.M.S. 
Agamemnon  manned  the  gunwales,  and  returned  the  cheer  with 
lusty  lungs,  while  from  the  stern  gallery  ladies  waved  their 
handkerchiefs,  and  savants  forgot  for  awhile  the  mysteries  of 
electricity  and  submarine  cable  work,  as  they  returned  the 
hearty  cheers  which  reached  them  from  the  shore. 

The  Agamemnon  was  taken  in  tow  by  three  steam-tugs,  one 
on  each  side,  and  a  third  in  front.  The  tall  masts  of  the  giant 
ship  were  watched  with  anxious  eagerness  till  they  were  lost  in 
the  far  distance,  and  her  huge  hull  disappeared  amid  the  numer- 
ous bends  and  windings  of  the  river. 

The  two  ships  met  at  Queenstown,  Cork,  on  July  30th. 
Charles  Bright  at  once  ran  a  piece  of  cable  between  the 
ships,  which  were  moored  about  three-quarters  of  a  mile 
apart,  so  as  to  enable  the  entire  length  of  2,500  miles  to 
be  tested  and  worked  through.  The  experiments  were 
continued  by  Mr.  Whitehouse  for  two  days,  the  whole  cable 
proving  to  be  perfect. 

What  by  that  time  had  become  known  as  the  "  Wire 
Squadron,"  sailed  from  this  rendezvous  for  Valentia  Bay 
on  Monday,  August  3rd. 

After  its  full  strength  had  been  collected  at  Queenstown, 
the  fleet  was  composed  as  follows  :— 

The  U.S.  screw-steamer  Niagara  to  lay  the  half  of  the 
cable  from  Valentia  Bay,  Ireland. 

The  U.S.  paddle-steamer  Susquehanna  to  attend  as 
consort  to  the  Niagara. 

H.M.  screw-steamer  Agamemnon,  to  lay  the  half  of  the 
cable  on  the  American  side. 

H.M.  paddle-steamer  Leopard  to  attend  upon  the  Agamem- 


H.M.  screw-steamer  Cyclops  to  go  ahead  of  the  steamers 
and  keep  the  course. 

H.M.  tender  Advice,  and  the  steam-tug  Willing  Mind, 
to  assist  in  landing  the  cable  at  Valentia. 

Then  in  Trinity  Bay,  Newfoundland,  the  U.S.  screw- 
steamer  Arctic  and  the  paddle-steamer  Victoria  (chartered 
by  the  "  Newfoundland "  Telegraph  Company)  were  to 
await  the  arrival  of  the  fleet,  and  assist  in  landing  the  cable. 

Advantage  was  taken  of  the  passage  from  Cork  to  experi- 
ment with  the  paying-out  machinery,  which  was  found  to 
be  perfectly  satisfactory. 

The  "  Wire  Squadron  "  at  Valentia 

On  arrival  at  Valentia  Harbour,  on  August  4th,  the  ships 
were  most  hospitably  welcomed  by  the  Knight  of  Kerry, 
Sir  Peter  Fitzgerald,  who  had  from  the  commencement 
taken  a  keen  interest  in  the  project.  Then,  His  Excel- 
lency the  Earl  of  Carlisle,  Lord  Lieutenant  of  Ireland— 
with  his  suite  and  many  friends  to  the  cable — had  journeyed 
from  Dublin  Castle  by  special  train,  and  the  little  corner 
of  Ireland  was  quite  en  fete  in  this  "  the  next  parish  to 

During  that  afternoon  the  Agamemnon  and  Niagara, 
with  their  consorts,  hove  in  sight.  The  following  morning 
Charles  Bright  and  his  assistants  were  occupied  in  complet- 
ing the  arrangements  for  landing  the  massive  shore  end, 
which  was  calculated  to  withstand  damage  from  any 
anchorage  in  the  bay.  The  landing-place  which  had  been 
finally  selected  was  a  little  cove  known  as  Ballycarberry, 


about  three  miles  from  Caherciveen,  in  Valentia  Harbour. 
The  two  small  assistant  steamers — Willing  Mind,  a  tug 
with  a  zeal  worthy  of  her  name,  and  Advice,  ready  not 
merely  with  advice  but  most  lusty  help — with  several  other 
launches  and  boats,  were  employed  on  this  operation,  which 
commenced  at  about  two  o'clock  on  the  afternoon  of  August 
5th,  and  was  thus  described  in  one  of  several  newspaper 
reports  :— 

Valentia  Bay  was  studded  with  innumerable  small  craft 
decked  with  the  gayest  bunting.  Small  boats  flitted  hither  and 
thither,  their  occupants  cheering  enthusiastically  as  the  work 
successfully  progressed.  The  cable  boats  were  managed  by  the 
sailors  of  the  Niagara  and  the  Susquehanna.  It  was  a  well- 
designed  compliment,  and  indicative  of  the  future  fraternisation 
of  the  nations,  that  the  shore  rope  was  arranged  to  be  presented 
at  this  side  of  the  Atlantic  to  the  representative  of  the  Queen  by 
the  officers  and  men  of  the  United  States  Navy  ;  and  that  at 
the  other  side  the  British  officers  and  sailors  should  make  a 
similar  presentation  to  the  President  of  the  great  Republic. 

From  the  mainland  the  operations  were  watched  with  intense 
interest.  For  several  hours  the  Lord  Lieutenant  stood  on  the 
beach  surrounded  by  his  staff  and  the  directors  of  the  railway 
and  telegraph  companies,  waiting  the  arrival  of  the  cable.  When 
at  length  the  American  sailors  jumped  through  the  surge  with 
the  hawser  to  which  it  was  attached,  his  Excellency  was  among 
the  first  to  lay  hold  of  it  and  pull  it  lustily  to  the  shore.  Indeed, 
every  one  present  seemed  desirous  of  having  a  hand  in  the  great 
work.  Never  before,  perhaps,  were  there  so  many  willing  assist- 
ants at  the  long  pull,  the  strong  pull,  and  the  pull  all  together. 

At  half-past  seven  o'clock  the  cable  was  hauled  on  shore  at 
Ballycarberry  Strand,  and  formal  presentation  was  made  of  it 
to  the  Lord  Lieutenant,  his  Excellency  expressing  a  hope  that 
the  work  so  well  begun  would  be  carried  to  a  satisfactory  com- 


After  the  vicar  of  the  parish  had  offered  a  prayer  for 
the  success  of  the  undertaking,  the  Lord  Lieutenant  closed 
the  proceedings  with  some  inspiriting  remarks.  The  work 
connected  with  the  landing  of  the  shore  end  was  not  actually 
completed  till  sunset  ;  so,  as  it  was  too  late  to  proceed  on 
their  journey,  the  ships  remained  at  anchor  in  the  bay  till 

That  night  there  was  a  grand  ball  at  the  little  village 
of  Knightstown,  and  the  day  dawn  caught  the  merry- 


makers  still  engaged  in  their  festivities.  In  writing  to  his 
wife,  young  Bright  described  the  scene  as  viewed  from 
the  Agamemnon,  in  the  following  words  :— 

A  bonfire  of  peat,  piled  up  as  high  as  a  good-sized  two-story 
house,  sent  its  ruddy  and  cheerful  light  far  out  into  the  darkness, 
brightening  up  the  black  crevices  in  the  frowning  rocks,  and 
throwing  a  glow  on  the  faces  of  the  light-hearted  peasantry  that 
gathered  around  in  a  huge  circle. 


Laying  the  First  Ocean  Cable 

Charles  Bright,  with  his  chief  assistants,  Messrs.  Canning, 
Woodhouse  and  Clifford,  had  taken  up  quarters  on  board 
the  Niagara,  besides  Bright 's  brother-in-law,  Mr.  Robert 
John  Taylor,  who  accompanied  the  expedition  as  a  visitor. 
Here  were  also  Mr.  Field  and  Professor  Morse.1 

Mr.  Webb  was  quartered  on  the  Agamemnon,  together 
with  Professor  Thomson  and  Mr.  H.  A.  Moriarty  2  as  Navi- 
gating Master.  The  latter  had  been  specially  detailed  by 
the  Admiralty  on  account  of  his  skill  in  that  class  of  work. 
Mr.  C.  V.  de  Sauty,  a  gentleman  of  considerable  practical 
experience,  was  placed  in  charge  of  the  electrical  arrange- 
ments on  board  the  Niagara,  subservient,  however,  to  the 
orders  of  Mr.  Whitehouse  from  shore.  Mr.  J.  C.  Laws  was 
also  there.  Mr.  Whitehouse  was  not  able  to  go  out  on  the 
expedition  for  reasons  of  health. 

The  ships  got  under  way  at  an  early  hour  on  the  morn- 
ing following  the  landing  of  the  shore  end.  Paying  out 
was  commenced  from  the  forepart  of  the  Niagara  ;  and  as 
the  distance  from  that  to  the  stern  was  considerable,  a 
number  of  men  were  stationed  at  intervals,  like  sentinels, 
to  see  that  every  foot  of  the  line  safely  reached  its  destina- 

1  The  latter — who  besides  being  electrician  to  the   New  Yorl 
and    Newfoundland    Telegraph   Company,    held    also    an   honorary 
watching  brief  on  behalf  of  the  United  States  Government— had 
unfortunately,  to  retire  to  his  berth  as  soon  as  the  elements  began 
to  assert  themselves,  and  remained  there  more  or  less  continuously 
throughout  the  expedition. 

2  Afterwards  Staff-Commander  Moriarty,  C.B. 



tion.  The  machinery  did  not  seem  at  first  to  take  kindly 
to  its  work,  giving  vent  to  many  ominous  groans.  After 
five  miles  had  been  disgorged  in  safety,  the  bulky  line 
caught  in  some  of  the  apparatus  and  parted.  The  good 
ship  at  once  put  back  ;  and  the  cable  was  under-run  by 
the  Willing  Mind  the  whole  distance  from  the  shore — a 
tedious  and  hard  task,  as  may  be  imagined.  At  length  the 
end  was  lifted  out  of  the  water  and  spliced  to  the  gigantic 
coil  on  board  ;  and  as  it  dropped  safely  to  the  bottom  of 
the  sea,  the  mighty  ship  steamed  ahead  once  more.  At  first 
she  moved  very  slowly — not  more  than  two  miles  an  hour — 
to  avoid  the  danger  of  another  accident ;  but  the  feeling 
that  they  were  at  last  away  was  in  itself  a  relief.  The 
ships  were  all  in  sight,  and  so  near  that  they  could  hear  each 
other's  bells.  The  Niagara,  as  if  knowing  she  was  bound 
for  the  land  out  of  whose  forests  she  came,  bowed  her  head 
proudly  to  the  waves,. 

In  the  words  of  Mr.  Henry  Field  : — 

Slowly  passed  the  hours  of  that  day.  But  all  went  well,  and 
the  ships  were  moving  out  into  the  broad  Atlantic.  At  length 
the  sun  went  down  in  the  west,  and  stars  came  out  on  the  face 
of  the  deep.  But  no  man  slept.  A  thousand  eyes  were  watch- 
ing a  great  experiment,  including  those  who  had  a  personal 
interest  in  the  issue. 

All  through  that  night,  and  through  the  anxious  days  and  nights 
that  followed,  there  was  a  feeling  in  the  heart  of  every  soul  on 
board,  as  if  some  dear  friend  were  at  the  turning  point  of  death, 
and  they  were  watching  beside  him.  There  was  a  strange 
unnatural  silence  in  the  ship.  Men  paced  the  deck  with  soft 
and  muffled  tread,  speaking  only  in  whispers,  as  if  a  loud  or  heavy 
footfall  might  snap  the  vital  cord.  So  much  had  they  grown  to 
feel  for  the  enterprise,  that  the  cable  seemed  to  them  like  a  human 


creature,  on  whose  fate  they  themselves  hung,  as  if  it  were  to 
decide  their  own  destiny. 

There  are  some  who  will  never  forget  that  first  night  at  sea. 
Perhaps  the  reaction  from  the  excitement  on  shore  made  the 
impression  the  deeper.  There  are  moments  in  life  when  every- 
thing comes  back  to  us.  What  memories  cropped  up  in  those 
long  night  hours  !  How  many  on  board  that  ship,  as  they  stood 
on  the  deck  and  watched  that  mysterious  cord  disappearing  in 
the  darkness,  thought  of  homes  beyond  the  sea,  of  absent  ones,  of 
the  distant  and  of  the  dead  !  But  no  musings  turn  them  from 
the  work  in  hand.  There  are  vigilant  eyes  on  deck— Mr.  Bright, 
the  engineer-in-chief,  is  there  ;  also,  in  turn,  Mr.  Woodhouse  and 
Mr.  Canning,  his  chief  assistants.  .  .  .  The  paying-out  machinery 
does  its  work,  and  though  it  makes  a  constant  rumble  in  the 
ship,  that  dull  heavy  sound  is  music  in  their  ears,  as  it  tells  them 
that  all  is  well.  If  one  should  drop  to  sleep,  and  wake  up  at 
night,  he  has  only  to  hear  the  sound  of  "  the  old  coffee-mill  " 
and  his  fears  are  relieved,  and  he  goes  to  sleep  again. 

The  second  day  at  sea  was  a  day  of  beautiful  weather. 
The  ships  were  getting  further  away  from  land,  and  began 
to  steam  ahead  at  the  rate  of  four  and  five  knots.  The 
cable  was  paid  out  at  a  speed  a  little  faster  than  the  ship, 
to  allow  for  inequalities  of  surface  on  the  bottom  of  the 
sea.  While  it  was  thus  going  overboard,  communica- 
tion was  kept  up  constantly  with  the  land. 

To  quote  Mr.  Henry  Field  again  :— 

Every  moment  the  current  was  passing  between  ship  and 
shore.  The  communication  was  as  perfect  as  between  Liverpool 
and  London,  or  Boston  and  New  York.  Not  only  did  the  elec- 
tricians telegraph  back  to  Valentia  the  progress  they  were  mak- 
ing, but  the  officers  on  board  sent  messages  to  their  friends  in 
America  to  go  out  by  the  steamers  from  Liverpool.  The  heavens 
seemed  to  smile  on  them  that  day.  The  coils  came  up  from 


below  the  deck  without  a  kink,  and  unwinding  themselves 
easily,  passed  over  the  stern  into  the  sea. 

All  Sunday  the  same  favouring  fortune  continued  ;  and  when 
the  officers  who  could  be  spared  from  the  deck  met  in  the  cabin, 
and  Captain  Hudson  read  the  service,  it  was  with  subdued  voices 
and  grateful  hearts  that  they  responded  to  the  prayers  to  "  Him 
Who  spreadeth  out  the  heavens  and  ruleth  the  raging  of  the  sea." 

On  Monday  they  were  over  two  hundred  miles  at  sea.  They 
had  got  far  beyond  the  shallow  waters  off  the  coast.  They  had 
passed  over  the  submarine  mountain  that  figures  on  the  charts 
of  Dayman  and  Berryman,  and  where  Mr.  Bright 's  log  gives  a 
descent  from  five  hundred  and  fifty  to  seventeen  hundred  and 
fifty  fathoms  within  eight  miles.  Then  they  came  to  the  deeper 
waters  of  the  Atlantic,  where  the  cable  sank  to  the  awful  depth 
of  two  thousand  fathoms  !  Still  the  iron  cord  buried  itself  in 
the  waves,  and  every  instant  the  flash  of  light  in  the  darkened 
telegraph  room  told  of  the  passage  of  the  electric  current. 

Everything  went  well  till  3.45  p.m.  on  the  fourth  day  out,  the 
nth  August,  when  the  cable  snapped  after  380  miles  had  been 
laid,  owing  to  mismanagement  on  the  part  of  the  mechanic  at 
the  brakes. 

Thus,  the  familiar  thin  Hne  which  had  been  streaming 
out  from  the  Niagara  for  six  days  was  no  longer  to  be  seen 
by  the  accompanying  vessels. 

One  who  was  present  wrote  :— 

The  unbidden  tear  started  to  many  a  manly  eye.  The  interest 
taken  in  the  enterprise  by  officers  and  men  alike  exceeded  any- 
thing ever  seen,  and  there  is  no  wonder  that  there  should  have 
been  so  much  emotion  on  the  occasion  of  the  accident. 

In  the  course  of  a  Report  to  the  Directors  of  the  Company, 
Charles  Bright  gave  the  full  details  of  the  expedition  up  to 
the  time  of  this  regrettable  occurrence.  The  following 
is  taken  from  the  Report,  and  deals  with  the  accident  and 


with  the  conclusions  he  had  arrived  at  for  resuming    the 
undertaking  :— 

I  had,  up  to  this,  attended  personally  to  the  regulation  of  the 
brakes ;  but  finding  that  all  was  going  well,  and  it  being 
necessary  that  I  should  be  temporarily  away  from  the  machine 
—to  ascertain  the  rate  of  the  ship,  to  see  how  the  cable  was  com- 
ing out  of  the  hold,  and  also  to  visit  the  electricians'  room — the 
machine  was  for  the  moment  left  in  charge  of  a  mechanic  who 
had  been  engaged  from  the  first  in  its  construction  and  fitting, 
and  was  intimately  acquainted  with  its  operation. 

In  proceeding  towards  the  fore  part  of  the  ship  I  heard  the 
machine  stop  ;  I  immediately  called  out  to  relieve  the  brakes, 
but  when  I  reached  the  spot,  the  cable  was  broken.  On  examin- 
ing the  machine,  which  was  otherwise  in  perfect  order,  I  found 
that  the  brakes  had  not  been  released  ;  and  to  this — or  to  the 
hand  wheel  of  the  brake  being  turned  the  wrong  way — may  be 
attributed  the  stoppage,  and  consequent  fracture,  of  the  cable. 
When  the  rate  of  the  wheels  grew  slower,  as  the  ship  dropped  her 
stern  in  the  swell,  the  brake  should  have  been  eased.  This 
had  been  done  regularly  whenever  an  unusually  sudden  descent 
of  the  ship  temporarily  withdrew  the  pressure  from  the  cable  in 
the  sea.  But  owing  to  our  entering  the  deep  water  the  previous 
morning,  and  having  all  hands  ready  for  any  emergency  that 
might  occur  there,  the  chief  part  of  my  staff  had  been  compelled 
to  give  in  at  night  through  sheer  exhaustion  ;  and  hence,  being 
short-handed,  I  was  obliged  for  the  time  to  leave  the  machine 
without,  as  it  proved,  sufficient  intelligence  to  control  it. 

I  perceive  that  on  the  next  occasion  it  will  be  needful,  owing 
to  the  wearing  and  anxious  nature  of  the  work — to  have  three 
separate  relays  of  staff  ;  and  to  employ,  for  attention  to  the 
brakes  a  higher  degree  of  mechanical  skill. 

The  origin  of  the  accident  was,  no  doubt,  the  amount  of 
retarding  strain  put  upon  the  cable  ;  but  had  the  machine  been 
properly  manipulated  at  the  time,  it  could  not  possibly  have 
taken  place. 


For  three  days,  in  shallow  and  deep  water,  as  well  as  in  rapid 
transition  from  one  to  the  other,  nothing  could  be  more  perfect 
than  the  working  of  the  cable  machinery.  It  had  been  made 
extra  heavy  with  a  view  to  recovery  work.  However,  it  per- 
formed its  duty  so  smoothly  and  efficiently  in  the  smaller  depths 
— where  the  weight  of  the  cable  had  less  ability  to  overcome  its 
friction  and  resistance — that  it  can  scarcely  be  said  to  be  too  heavy 
for  paying  out  in  deep  water,  where  it  was  necessary,  from  the 
increased  weight  of  cable,  to  restrain  its  rapid  motion,  by  apply- 
ing to  it  a  considerable  degree  of  additional  friction.  Its  action 
was  most  complete,  and  all  parts  worked  well  together. 

I  see  how  the  gear  can  be  improved,  by  a  modification  in  the 
form  of  sheaves,  by  an  addition  to  the  arrangement  for  adjusting 
the  brakes,  and  some  other  alterations  ;  but  with  proper  manage- 
ment, without  any  change  whatever,  I  am  confident  that  the 
whole  length  of  cable  might  have  been  safely  laid  by  the  ex- 
isting gear.  And  it  must  be  remembered — as  a  test  of  the  work 
which  it  has  done — that,  unfortunate  as  this  termination  to  the 
expedition  is,  the  longest  length  of  cable  ever  laid  has  been 
paid  out  by  it,  and  that  in  the  deepest  water  yet  passed  over. 

After  the  accident  had  occurred,  soundings  were  taken  by 
Lieutenant  Dayman  from  the  Cyclops,  and  the  depth  found  to  be 
2,000  fathoms. 

It  will  be  remembered  that  some  importance  was  attached  to 
the  cable  on  board  the  Niagara  and  Agamemnon  being  manufac- 
tured in  opposite  lays.  I  thought  this  a  favourable  opportunity 
to  show  that  practically  the  difference  was  not  of  consequence  in 
effecting  the  junction  in  mid-ocean.  We  therefore  made  a  splice 
between  the  two  vessels.  This  was  then  lowered  in  a  heavy  sea, 
after  which  several  miles  were  paid  out  without  difficulty. 

I  requested  the  commanders  of  the  several  vessels  to  proceed 
to  Plymouth,  as  the  docks  there  afford  better  facilities  than  any 
other  port  for  landing  the  cable,  should  it  be  necessary  to  do  so. 

The  whole  of  the  cable  remaining  on  board  has  been  carefully 
tested  and  inspected,  and  found  to  be  in  as  perfect  condition  as 
when  it  left  the  works  at  Greenwich  and  Birkenhead  respectively. 


One  important  point  presses  for  your  consideration  at  an  early 
period.  A  large  portion  of  cable,  already  laid,  may  be  recovered 
at  a  comparatively  small  expense.  I  append  an  estimate  of  the 
cost,  and  shall  be  glad  to  receive  your  authority  to  proceed  with 
this  work. 

I  do  not  perceive  in  our  present  position  any  reason  for  dis- 
couragement ;  but  I  have,  on  the  contrary,  a  greater  confidence 
than  ever  in  the  undertaking.  It  has  been  proved  beyond  a 
doubt  that  no  obstacle  exists  to  prevent  our  ultimate  success, 
and  I  see  clearly  how  every  difficulty  which  has  presented  itself 
in  this  voyage  can  be  effectually  dealt  with  in  the  next. 

The  cable  has  been  laid  at  the  expected  rate  in  the  great  depths  ; 
its  electric  working  through  the  entire  length  has  been  satis- 
factorily accomplished  ;  while  the  portion  laid,  actually  improved 
in  efficiency  by  being  submerged — from  the  low  temperature  of 
the  water  and  the  increased  close  texture  of  gutta-percha  there- 
by effected. 

Mechanically  speaking,  the  structure  of  the  cable  has  answered 
every  expectation  that  I  had  formed  of  it.  Its  weight  in  water 
is  so  adjusted  to  the  depth,  that  strain  is  within  a  manageable 
scope  ;  while  the  effects  of  the  undercurrents  upon  its  surface 
prove  how  dangerous  it  would  be  to  lay  a  much  lighter  rope, 
which  would,  by  the  greater  time  occupied  in  sinking,  expose  an 
increased  surface  to  their  power — besides  its  descent  being  at 
an  angle  such  as  would  not  provide  for  good  laying  at  the  bottom. 
On  the  other  hand,  in  regard  to  any  further  length  made,  I  would 
take  the  opportunity  of  again  strongly  urging  the  desirability  of 
a  much  larger  conductor  and  corresponding  increase  in  the 
weight  of  insulation,  in  accordance  with  my  original  recom- 

The  Report  here  quoted  from  was  afterwards  sent  by  the 
Secretary  of  the  Company  to  The  Times  for  publication. 


Preparations  for  another  Attempt 

This  untoward  accident  was  naturally  a  cause  of  great 
sorrow  to  all  connected  with  the  undertaking.  There 
was  not  enough  cable  left  to  complete  the  work,  nor  was 
there  time  to  get  more  made  and  stowed  on  board  to  renew 
the  attempt  before  the  season  would  be  too  far  advanced. 
Yet  much  experience  had  been  gained,  and  there  were  many 
points  of  encouragement  in  Charles  Bright 's  report.  Those 
immediately  concerned  in  the  great  enterprise  were,  des- 
pite their  heavy  disappointment,  in  the  end  undaunted. 

The  squadron  proceeded  to  Plymouth  to  unload  the  cable 
into  tanks  at  Keyham  Dockyard,  chiefly  because  some  of 
the  ships  could  not  be  spared  by  their  respective  Govern- 
ments till  the  following  year.  The  insulation  was  carefully 
tested  by  Professor  Thomson  and  Mr.  Whitehouse,  who 
found  that  the  copper  wire  had  forced  its  way  through 
the  gutta-percha  at  several  points — probably  owing  to 
the  repeated  coiling  and  uncoiling — the  manufacture  of 
gutta-percha  at  the  proper  temperature  not  being  then 
understood  as  it  is  now.  These  defects  were  duly  repaired. 
On  being  discharged  from  the  ships,  the  cable  was  passed 
through  a  composition  of  tar,  pitch,  linseed-oil,  and  bees- 
wax, as  a  precaution  against  oxidation  ;  and  was  coiled 
in  compact  circles  in  four  large  roofed  tanks  specially  con- 
structed for  the  purpose,  with  a  view  to  storing  the  cable 
ashore  until  the  following  summer,  when  the  undertaking 
was  to  be  resumed— at  least  so  many  hoped. 


In  the  middle  of  October,  Bright  proceeded  to  Valentia, 
accompanied  by  Mr.  Clifford,  in'a  small  paddle-steamer,  with 
the  object  of  picking  up  some  of  the  cable  near  here.  After 
experiencing  a  series  of  gales,  over  fifty  miles  of  the  main 
cable  were  recovered,  and  the  shore  end  buoyed  ready  for 
splicing  on  to  in  the  coming  year.  Whilst  engaged  in  the 
above  work  the  subject  of  our  biography  penned  the  fol- 


lowing  to  his  wife,  which  serves  to  describe  the  operation 
and  the  apparatus  employed  :— 


October  24th,  1857. 

I  send  you  a  gift  from  Henry  Clifford,  a  view  from  our  win- 
dow at  the  inn  here.  The  steamer  to  the  right  is  the  Leipzig. 
The  pier  is  the  breakwater  of  Valentia  Harbour.  The  queer- 
looking  thing  to  the  left  is  an  apparatus  I  have  fitted  up  for 
under-running  the  cable.  It  is  composed  of  two  very  large  long 
iron  buoys  fixed  together  like  a  twin  ship  with  a  platform  of 


timber  over  it.  On  this,  at  each  end,  is  a  saddle  with  a  deep 
groove  for  the  cable  to  run  in.  The  cable  being  on  the  near 
shore,  it  is  towed  along.  When  near  the  end  of  the  heavy  cable 
I  shall  take  it  off,  cut  the  cable,  buoy  the  heavy  end,  and  begin 
winding  up  the  small  one  as  we  go  on. 

This  first  expedition  had  opened  the  eyes  of  the  investing 
public  to  the  vastness  of  the  undertaking,  and  led  many  to 
doubt  who  did  not  doubt  before.  Some  even  began  to 
look  upon  it  as  a  romantic  adventure  of  the  sea,  rather 
than  as  a  serious  commercial  undertaking.  As  Henry 
Field  reminds  us  :  "  This  decline  of  popular  faith  was  felt 
as  soon  as  there  was  a  call  for  more  money." 

The  loss  of  335  miles  of  cable,  with  the  postponement 
of  the  expedition  to  another  year,  was  equivalent  to  a  loss 
of  £100,000.  To  make  this  good,  the  capital  of  the  com- 
pany had  to  be  increased,  and  this  new  capital  was  not 
readily  obtainable.  The  projectors  found  that  it  was  easy 
to  go  with  the  current  of  popular  enthusiasm,  but  very  hard 
to  stem  a  growing  tide  of  popular  distrust.  And  it  must 
also  be  remembered  that,  from  the  very  first,  that  section 
of  the  public  which  looked  with  distrust  upon  the  idea  of 
an  Atlantic  Telegraph  was  far  in  excess  of  that  which  did 
not ;  indeed,  the  opposition  encountered  was  much  on 
a  par  with  the  popular  prejudice  which  George  Stephenson 
had  to  overcome  when  projecting  his  great  Railway  schemes. 

But  whatever  the  depression  at  the  untimely  termination 
of  the  first  expedition,  it  did  not  interfere  with  renewed  and 
vigorous  efforts  to  prepare  for  a  second.  In  the  end,  the 
appeal  to  the  shareholders  for  more  money  was  responded 
to  ;  and  the  directors  were  enabled  to  give  orders  for  the 


manufacture  of  700  miles  of  new  cable  of  the  same  descrip- 
tion, to  make  up  for  what  had  been  lost,  and  to  provide  a 
surplus  against  all  contingencies.  Thus,  3,000  nautical 
miles  in  all  were  eventually  shipped  this  time,  instead  of 
2,500  miles. 

A  committee  was  arranged  to  confer  with  Charles  Bright 
as   to   the  machinery.     This   committee   consisted   of   Mr. 


Thomas  Lloyd,  the  chief  of  the  Steam  Department  of  Her 
Majesty's  Navy  ;  Mr.  John  Penn,  of  Greenwich  ;  and  Mr. 
Joshua  Field,  F.R.S.,  of  Maudslay,  Son  &  Field.  Mr. 
W.  E.  Everett,  U.S.N.,  was  also  consulted  later.  As  the 
chief  (ship's)  engineer  of  the  Niagara,  on  the  late  expedition, 
Mr.  Everett  had  acquired  a  good  deal  of  information  from 
seeing  the  working  of  the  apparatus  on  board.  He  also 
joined  in  approving  Charles  Bright 's  suggested  alterations. 


This  gentleman  had  to  return  to  America  with  his  ship  ;  but  on 
again  arriving  in  London,  on  January  i8th  of  the  following 
year,  he  had  the  satisfaction  of  attesting  to  the  sterling 
qualities  of  the  machine  devised,  adopted,  and  constructed 
in  his  absence,  as  well  as  in  partly  superintending  the  setting 
up  of  it  aboard  the  ships.  The  above  committee  reported  : 
'  We  consider  the  paying-out  sheaves  require  no  alterations 
except  those  suggested  by  Mr.  Bright  in  a  memorandum 
he  was  good  enough  to  place  in  our  hands." 

Quite  independently  Charles  Bright  had  decided  that  the 
checking  gear,  or  brake,  should  not  be  left  in  the  power  of 
any  person  in  charge  to  j  amb  the  machine  ;  and  subsequently 


a  very  opportune  invention  of  Mr.  J.  G.  Appold,  F.R.S., 
was  considered  in  this  connection.  It  consisted  of  a  brake 
so  arranged  that  a  lever  exercised  a  uniform  holding  power 
in  exact  proportion  to  the  weights  attached  to  it  ;  and  while 
capable  of  being  released  by  a  hand-wheel,  it  could  not  be 
tightened.  This  clever  appliance  had  been  introduced  in 
association  with  the  crank  apparatus  in  gaols,  so  as  to 
regulate  the  amount  of  labour  in  proportion  to  the  strength 
of  the  prisoner.  The  above  invention  was  especially 
adapted  to  the  exigencies  of  cable  work  by  Mr.  C.  E.  Amos, 


M.Inst.C.E.,  and  Charles  Bright.  The  great  feature 
about  it  was  that  it  provided  for  automatic  release  of  the 
brake,  upon  the  strain  exceeding  that  intended.  Thus 
only  a  maximum  agreed  strain  could  be  applied,  this  being 
regulated  from  time  to  time  by  weights,  according  to  depth 
of  water  and  consequent  weight  of  cable  being  paid  out. 
In  passing  from  the  hold  to  the  stern  of  the  laying  vessel, 
the  cable  is  taken  round  a  drum.1  Attached  to  the  axle  of 
the  drum  2  is  a  wheel  fitted  with  an  iron  friction-strap  (to 
which  are  fixed  blocks  of  hard  wood),  capable  of  exerting 
a  given  retarding  power,  varying  with  the  weights  hung 
on  to  the  lever  N  which  tightens  the  strap.  When  the  fric- 
tion becomes  great,  the  wheels  have  an  increased  tendency 
to  carry  the  wooden  blocks  round  with  them  :  thus  the 
lever  bars  are  deflected  from  the  vertical  line  and  the  iron 
band  opened  sufficiently  to  lessen  the  brake  power.  Hence, 
this  apparatus  may  be  said  to  be  partially  self-regulating 
in  its  action — to  the  extent  of  avoiding  an  excess  retarding- 

Charles  Bright  also  devised  a  dynamometer  apparatus — 
for  indicating  and  controlling  the  strain  during  paying  out — 
which  was  a  great  improvement  on  that  embodied  in  the 
previous  machines. 

The  working  connections  of  the  friction-brake  and  hand- 
wheel  referred  to  are  shown  on  the  previous  page.  A  more 

1  In  the  actual  apparatus  for  the  laying  of  the  1858  cable,  there 
were  (see  illustration,  p.  79)  two  drums,  A  and  B,  each  having  two 
brake  wheels  attached  to  their  axles. 

2  This  drum  is  carried  round  by  the  weight  of  the  axle  as  the  ship 
moves  onwards. 


complete  notion  of  it,  however,  as  well  as  of  the  entire 
paying-out  gear  (with  Bright's  dynamometer),  as  ultimately 
adopted  for  the  next  expedition,  is  best  obtained  from  the 
plate  on  the  previous  page. 

The  working  of  the  entire  machine  was  as  follows  x : — 

Between  the  two  brake  drums  A  and  B  and  the  stern  of  the  vessel, 
the  cable  was  bent  somewhat  out  of  the  straight  line  by  being  led 
under  the  grooved  wheel  O  of  the  dynamometer.  This  wheel 
had  a  weight  attached  to  it,  and  could  be  moved  up  or  down  in 
an  iron  frame  G.  If  the  strain  upon  the  cable  was  small,  the 
wheel  would  bend  the  cable  downwards,  and  its  index  would  show 
a  low  degree  of  pressure  ;  but  whenever  the  strain  increased, 
the  cable,  in  straightening  itself,  would  at  once  lift  the  dynamo- 
meter wheel  with  the  indicator  attached  to  it,  which  showed  the 
pressure  in  hundredweights  and  tons.  The  amount  of  strain 
with  a  given  weight  upon  the  wheel  was  determined  by  experi- 
ment, and  a  hand-wheel  W  in  connection  with  the  levers  of  the 
paying-out  machine  was  placed  immediately  opposite  the 
dynamometer  ;  so  that  directly  the  indicator  showed  strain 
increasing,  the  person  in  charge  could  at  once,  by  turning  the 
hand-wheel,  lift  up  the  weights  that  tightened  the  friction  straps, 
and  so  let  the  cable  run  freely  through  the  paying-out  machine. 
Although,  therefore,  the  strain  could  be  reduced — or  entirely  with- 
drawn— in  a  moment,  it  could  not  be  increased  by  the  man  at 
the  wheel. 

The  dynamometer  principle  of  Charles  Bright  here  introduced 
has  been  universally  adopted  in  the  laying  of  all  subsequent 
submarine  cables. 

The  construction  of  this  improved  apparatus  was  carried 
out  by  Messrs.  Easton  &  Amos  at  their  works  in  Southwark. 
Mr.  Henry  Clifford,  who,  as  a  mechanical  engineer,  was  an 

1  Submarine  Telegraphs. 


expert  in  machinery,  also  attended  closely  to  the  manufac- 
ture of  the  gear. 

About  this  time,  two  able  calculating  engineers,  Mr.  T. 
A.  Longridge,  M.Inst.C.E.,  and  Mr.  C.  H.  Brooks,  read  a 
paper  before  the  Institution  of  Civil  Engineers  with  refer- 
ence to  this  subject,  and  young  Bright  led  off  the  discussion.1 
This  paper  was  of  a  mathematical  and  almost  entirely 
theoretical  order,  regarding  the  resistance  to  a  rope  intro- 
duced by  skin  friction  in  passing  through  water.  These  gentle- 
men also  asserted,  from  their  mathematical  deductions, 
that :  "The  result  of  a  stoppage  of  the  paying-out  apparatus, 
in  a  depth  of  2,000  fathoms,  whilst  the  vessel  was  pro- 
ceeding at  the  rate  of  six  feet  per  second,  would  be  to  bring 
a  strain  on  the  cable  amounting  to  over  seven  tons,  while 
its  strength  was  only  about  half  that."  It  was,  however, 
actually  in  evidence  that  Charles  Bright  had  stopped  paying 
out,  during  the  last  expedition,  when  in  very  nearly  that 
depth,  for  some  length  of  time,  while  clearing  tar  off  the 
brake  machine. 

The  following  week  the  "  Civils  "  engaged  once  more  in 
submarine  cable  talk.  This  time  an  eminently  practical 
discourse  was  furnished  by  Mr.  F.  C.  Webb2 ;  and  here  was 
the  occasion  on  which  Professor  Airy,3  the  then  Astronomer 
Royal,  expressed  himself  very  decidedly  that  (ist)  "  it 
was  a  mathematical  impossibility  to  submerge  the  cable 
successfully  at  so  great  a  depth  in  safety,"  and  (2nd)  that 
"  if  it  were  possible,  no  signals  could  be  transmitted  through 

1  Proc.   Inst.  C.E.,  vol.  xvii.     See   also   Appendix   8   to   Vol.  I. 
of  the  original  biography. 

2  Proc.  Inst.  C.E.,  vol.  xvii. 

3  Afterwards  Sir  George  Biddell  Airy,   K.C.B.,   F.R.S. 



so  great  a  length."  Professor  Airy  stated  in  addition  that : 
"  When  a  cable  was  paid  out  at  the  angle  of  10  (with  the 
horizon),  there  was  a  strain  upon  it  of  nearly  sixty-six 
times  the  minimum  tension,  or  sixty-six  times  the  depth 
of  the  sea  at  that  place.  When  this  was  considered,  it 
seemed  to  him,  that  in  all  the  annals  of  engineering  there 
was  not  another  instance  in  which  danger  was  incurred  so 
needlessly.  .  .  .  The  angle  at  which  it  should  be  paid 
out  should  never  be  less  than  45°  with  the  horizon."  He 
also  supported  his  theory  by  a  series  of  computations.  But 
he  altogether  omitted  to  take  into  account  the  fact  that  a 
cable  ship  merely  moves  quickly,  as  it  were,  from  under 
the  cable  it  carries  ;  and  that  the  faster  the  paying  out  can 
be  carried  on,  the  closer  is  the  angle  of  the  cable  to  the 
horizon — 10°  to  15°  being  very  customary.  At  this  meeting 
Charles  Bright  took  the  opportunity  to  correct  some  of 
the  erroneous  views  that  had  obtained  currency  and  given 
rise  to  false  conclusions. 

From  the  very  outset  of  the  project,  and  as  soon  as  he 
was  appointed  engineer,  young  Bright  had  had  to  deal 
with  amateurs  in  the  art !  As  the  "  Jack-in-office  "  all 
were,  ready  to  pounce  upon  him  :  thus  he  was  subjected 
to  all  manner  of  suggestions  regarding  the  laying  of  cables, 
transmitted  to  him  officially  through  the  secretary  of  the 
Company.1  These— which,  with  our  present  lights,  do  in- 
deed seem  ludicrous— had  to  be  politely  dealt  with,  not- 
withstanding extreme  pressure  of  work.  Some,  be  it 
added,  emanated  from  men  of  highly  scientific  attainments. 

1  The  Story  of  the  Atlantic  Cable, 


The  projected  cable,  and  the  formation  of  such  a  company, 
appeared,  indeed,  to  stimulate  and  excite  the  brains  of  many 

a  sanguine  inventor. 

It  is  both  amusing  and  sad  to  think  of  some  of  the  ideas 
put  forward.  Perhaps  the  most  frequent  was  in  connection 
with  the  fallacy,  that,  as  the  water  increased  in  depth, 
therefore  at  a  given  point  in  deep  water,  a  long  way  off 
the  bottom,  the  cable  would  be  held  in  suspense.  This  was 
a  very  common  delusion  at  the  time.  Obviously,  the  pres- 
sure increases  with  the  depths,  on  all  sides  of  a  cable  (or 
anything  else),  in  its  descent  through  the  sea;  but  as, 
practically,  everything  on  earth  is  more  compressible  than 
water,  it  is  clear  that  the  iron  wire,  yarn,  gutta-percha, 
and  copper  conductor  forming  the  cable,  must  be  more 
and  more  compressed  as  they  descend.  Thus  the  cable 
constantly  increases  its  density,  or  specific  gravity,  in  going 
down  ;  while  the  equal  bulk  of  the  water  surrounding  it 
continues  to  have,  practically  speaking,  the  same  specific 
gravity  as  at  the  surface.  Without  this  valuable  property 
possessed  by  water,  the  hydraulic  press  would  not  exist ; 
but  the  strange  blunder  here  described  was  participated  in 
by  some  of  the  most  distinguished  naval  men.  To  obviate 
this  non-existent  difficulty,  it  was  gravely  proposed  to 
festoon  the  cable  across,  at  a  given  maximum  depth,  between 
buoys,  and  floats,  or  even  parachutes — at  which  ships  might 
call,  hook  on,  and  telegraphically  talk  to  shore  ! 

Others,  again,  proposed  to  apply  gummed  cotton  to 
the  outside  of  the  cable  in  connection  with  the  above  buoying 
system.  The  idea  was  that  the  gum  (or  glue)  would  gradu- 
ally dissolve,  and  so  let  the  cable  down  "  quietly  !  " 


One  naval  officer  of  eminence  urged  the  employment  of 
an  immense  floating  cylinder,  on  which  the  cable  was  to 
be  wound.  This  cylinder  was  then  to  be  towed  across  the 
Atlantic,  unrolling  the  cable  in  its  progress.  The  unwieldi- 
ness  of  such  a  cylinder,  with  some  2,500  miles  of  cable  en- 
circling it,  in  addition  to  its  own  weight,  and  the  practical 
impossibility  of  regulating  delivery  in  its  revolutions — or  of 
dealing  with  it  even  in  an  ordinary  roughish  sea — did  not 
appear  to  be  held  of  much  account  by  the  projector. 

It  was  also  suggested  that  the  proper  place  to  pay  out 
was  from  the  centre  of  the  ship,  as  the  point  of  least  motion, 
and  therefore  least  liable  to  damage  the  cable  ;  and  it  was 
proposed  to  have  an  opening  in  the  middle  to  let  it  down. 
But  as  the  cable  in  paying  out  leaves  the  ship  at  an  angle 
only  a  little  removed  from  the  horizontal,  the  absurdity 
of  such  a  suggestion  is  manifest. 

Again,  a  trail,  or  flexible  pipe,  was  strongly  advocated, 
"  to  hang  down  from  the  ship's  stern  to  the  bottom  of  the 
sea,  through  which  the  cable  was  to  be  allowed  to  pass." 
The  promoters  of  this  plan  omitted,  however,  to  consider 
the  effects  of  the  friction  resulting  from  2,000  miles  of  cable 
passing  through  it.  Of  whatever  substance  such  a  trail 
might  be  made,  a  day  or  two's  rubbing  of  the  cable  would 
have  worn  it  through. 

Some  again  absolutely  went  so  far  as  to  take  out  patents 
for  converting  the  laying  vessel  into  a  huge  factory,  "  with  a 
view  to  making  the  cable  on  board  in  one  continuous  length, 
and  submerging  it  during  the  process." 

Another  party  (a  retired  naval  officer)  gravely  asserted 
that  no  soundings  could  have  been  obtained  across  the 


Atlantic,  as  "  both  modern  science  and  actual  experiment 
demonstrate  that,  long  before  any  such  depths  could 
be  reached,  the  lead  must  necessarily  have  displaced  its 
own  specific  gravity  in  so  dense  a  medium  as  water,  and 
consequently  at  once  then  stop,  remaining  suspended, 

Let  us  now  return  to  the  active  and  practical  preparations 
for  the  forthcoming  expedition.  It  is  difficult  for  the 
uninitiated  to  realise  what  these  meant.  They  would  have 
driven  many  crazy,  if  only  on  account  of  their  vast  and 
varied  character.  In  this  connection,  Charles  Bright  notes 
in  his  diary  : — • 

It  was  only  by  dint  of  bribing,  bullying,  cajoling,  and  going 
day  by  day  to  see  the  state  of  things  ordered,  that  anything  is 
ready  in  time  for  starting. 

He  then  says  :— 

At  first  one  goes  nearly  mad  with  vexation  at  the  delays  ; 
but  soon  one  finds  that  they  are  the  rule,  and  then  it  becomes 
necessary  to  feign  a  rage  one  does  not  feel. 

Further  :— 

I  look  upon  it  as  the  natural  course  of  things  that  if  I  give  a 
order  it  will  not  be  carried  out  ;  or,  if  by  accident  it  is  carried 
out,  it  will  be  carried  out  wrongly.  The  only  remedy  is  to  watch 
the  performance  at  every  stage. 

All  this  incessant  toil  seems  to  have  additionally  inspired 

the  following  note  :— 

When  idle,  one  can  love,  one  can  be  good,  feel  kindly  to  all, 
devote  oneself  to  others,  be  thankful  for  existence,  educate  one's 
mind,  one's  heart,  one's  body.1  When  busy,  one  sometimes  seems 
too  busy  to  indulge  in  any  of  these  pleasures. 

1  The  truth  of  this  need  not  necessarily  conflict  with  the  fact  that, 
in  most  instances,  the  permanently  idle  find  no  time  for  any  of  the 
above  virtues. 


As  soon  as  one  of  the  machines  for  paying  out  the  cable 
was  completed  and  set  up  in  working  order,  all  Bright's 
staff  inspected  the, working  of  the  machine  ;  whilst  at  the 
same  time  receiving  instructions,  as  above,  for  the  coming 
expedition.  There  then  followed  the  trial  mentioned,  during 
which  a  complete  rehearsal  was  gone  through  of  the  various 
operations  to  be  performed  with  the  apparatus. 

Bright's  arrangement  for  stowing  the  cable  aboard  formed 
a  subject  for  discussion  at  the  hands  of  some  of  the  naval 
officers  concerned  with  the  undertaking.  Our  young 
engineer  had  determined  this  time  that  the  large  coil  in 
the  hold  of  the  Agamemnon  must  be  made  as  truly  circular 
and  also  as  large  as  he  had  insisted  on  for  the  Niagara 
in  the  previous  year.  He  also  decided  that  a  cone  in  the 
middle  of  each  coil,  and  a  large  margin  of  space  to  the 
hatchway-eye  above,  were  both  essential  provisions  for  safe 
paying  out.  These  alterations  were  all  duly  made,  although 
one  of  the  naval  experts  had  expressed  himself  that  the 
cable  "  should  be  stowed  in  long  Flemish  flakes/'  The  same 
officer  also  considered  that  "  no  other  machinery  for  paying 
out  was  necessary  or  desirable  than  a  handspike  to  stop 
the  egress  of  the  cable  "(!)  Charles  Bright,  whilst  always 
ready  to  listen  to  suggestions,  had  sometimes  to  remind 
his  critics,  in  effect,  that  "  criticism  is  always  easier  than 

Whilst  the  cable  was  stored  in  the  tanks  at  Keyham 
Dockyard,  Mr.  Whitehouse— partly  in  conjunction  with 
Professor  Thomson— took  the  opportunity  of  conducting  a 
fresh  series  of  experiments  through  the  entire  length,  with 
various  apparatus  and  under  various  conditions.  These 


experiments  were  more  especially  in  the  direction  of  testing, 
and  improving  on,  the  rate  of  working.  As  a  result,  a 
speed  of  four  words  per  minute  was  attained  through  the 
2,000  odd  miles. 

Since  the  manufacture  of  the  cable  in  1857,  Professor 
Thomson  had  become  impressed  with  the  conviction  that 
the  electric  conductivity  of  copper  varied  greatly  with  its 
degree  of  purity.  Resulting  from  the  professor's  further 
investigations,  the  extra  length  of  cable  made  for  the  coming 
expedition  was  subjected  to  systematic  and  searching  tests 
for  the  purity  and  conductivity  of  the  copper.  Every  hank 
of  wire  was  tested  ;  and  all  whose  conducting  power  fell 
below  a  certain  value  rejected.  Here,  then,  we  have  the  first 
instance  of  an  organised  system  of  testing  for  conductivity 
at  the  cable  factory — a  system  which  has  ever  since  been 
rigorously  insisted  on. 

And  now,  in  the  spring  of  1858,  an  invention  was  perfected 
that  was  destined  to  have  a  remarkable  effect  on  sub- 
marine cable  enterprise.  For  within  about  a  year  of  his 
entering  the  ranks  of  telegraphic  scientists,  Professor  Thom- 
son (afterwards  Lord  Kelvin)  devised  and  perfected  the 
mirror-speaking  instrument,  then  often  described  as  the 
marine  galvanometer,  that  entirely  revolutionised  long 
distance  signalling  and  electrical  testing  aboard  ship.  It 
is  only  to  be  regretted  that  the  electrician  responsible  for 
the  subsequent  working-through  operations  did  not  sooner 
appreciate  the  great  beauties  of  this  apparatus,  and  the 
advantage  of  a  small  generating  force  such  as  it  only 

The  Board  decided  "  that  it  would  be  desirable  to  begin 


paying  out  the  cable  in  mid-ocean."  Thus,  they  reversed 
the  starting  from  shore  of  the  previous  expedition.  The 
latter,  it  will  be  remembered,  was  a  concession  to  the 
electricians,  though  strongly  opposed  by  Charles  Bright 
and  the  whole  of  his  engineering  staff  at  the  time.  The 
grounds  on  which  the  former  plan  was  preferable  were 
(i)  the  ability  to  choose  the  day  for  joining  the  ends  in  good 
weather ;  (2)  the  reduction  of  the  time  taken  over  the 
laying  operation  by  one-half,  with  thus  a  better  chance  of 
fine  weather  being  maintained  throughout  the  expedition  ; 
and  (3)  that  the  most  difficult  part  of  the  work,  in  the 
deepest  water,  would  be  dealt  with  first. 

It  was  also  arranged  by  Charles  Bright  that  the  main 
cable  should  be  buoyed  at  each  end,  and  the  connections 
to  it  by  the  heavy  cable  from  shore  effected  at  the  earliest 
opportunity  afterwards. 

The  Trial  Trip 

All  the  3,000  miles  of  cable  was  coiled  into  the  two  large 
ships  and  the  improved  machinery  fitted  on  board  of  them 
by  the  end  of  May.  The  Agamemnon  was  on  this  occasion 
in  naval  command  of  Captain  (afterwards  Vice-Admiral) 
G.  W.  Preedy,  R.N.—in  place  of  Capt.  Noddall,  R.N.— but 
her  navigating  master  was  Mr.  H.  A.  Moriarty,  R.N.,  as 

Thus  equipped,  the  fleet  again  set  forth  from  Plymouth 


on  May  29th,  1858,  but  this  time  without  any  show  of  public 
enthusiasm.  Charles  Bright  was  accompanied  by  the  en- 
gineering and  electrical  staff  already  referred  to.  With  him 
on  the  Agamemnon  were  Mr.  Canning  (his  chief  assistant),  and 
Mr.  Clifford  ;  whilst  on  the  Niagara  he  was  jointly  repre- 
sented by  Mr.  Everett  and  Mr.  Woodhouse,  the  former 
taking  charge  of  the  machinery,  and  the  latter — with 
a  greater  experience  in  such  work — of  the  cable.  They 
were  assisted  by  Captain  John  Kell.  Mr.  Cyrus  Field  also 
accompanied  the  Niagara.  Mr.  Whitehouse  being  again 
unable  to  take  passage,  Professor  Thomson  agreed  to 
supervise  the  testing-room  arrangements  in  the  Agamemnon, 
whilst  Mr.  de  Sauty  and  Mr.  Laws — together  with  Mr. 
John  Murray — had  the  electrical  force  of  the  Niagara  under 
their  charge. 

Although  the  improved  paying-out  gear  had  passed  through 
most  satisfactory  experiments  at  Messrs.  Easton  &  Amos' 
works,  it  was  arranged  by  Charles  Bright  to  test  it  practically 
in  very  deep  water — besides  making  splices  at  sea,  picking 
up,  buoying  and  exercising  all  hands  in  their  work  generally 
—before  commencing  to  lay  in  mid-Atlantic.  So  the  cable- 
laden  ships,  with  H.M.S.  Valorous  and  H.M.S.  Gorgon  as  con- 
sorts, first  made  a  trial  trip  to  the  Bay  of  Biscay  as  far  as 
lat.  47°i2'N.,  long.  9°32'W.,  about  120  miles  north- 
west of  Corunna,  where  the  Gorgon  got  soundings  of  2,530 
fathoms,  or  nearly  three  statute  miles,  in  depth.  The 
Agamemnon  and  Niagara  were  then  backed  close  together, 
stern  on,  and  a  strong  hawser  was  passed  between  them. 

Each  ship  had  on  board  some  defective  cable  for  the 


experiment  about  to  be  conducted.  The  further  proceed- 
ings may  now  be  observed  from  a  perusal  of  Bright's  diary, 
written  aboard  the  Agamemnon  :— 

Monday,  May  ^ist. — 10  a.m.,  hove  to,  lat.  47°n/,  long.  9°37' 
Up  to  midday  engaged  in  making  splice  between  experimental 
cable  in  fore  coil  and  that  in  main  hold,  besides  other  minor 
operations.  In  afternoon,  getting  hawser  from  Niagara,  and 
her  portion  of  cable  to  make  joint,  and  splice.  4  p.m.,  com- 
menced splice  ;  5.15,  splice  completed  ;  5.25,  let  go  splice  frame 
(weight  3  cwt.)  over  gangway,  amidships,  starboard  side.  5.30, 
after  getting  splice  frame  (containing  the  splice)  clear  of  the 
ship  and  lowering  it  to  the  bottom,  each  vessel  (then  about  a 
quarter  of  a  mile  apart)  commenced  paying  out  in  opposite 

9  p.m.,  got  on  board  Niagara's  warp  and  her  end  of  cable,  to 
make  another  splice  for  second  experiment. 

June  ist. — i  a.m.  (night),  electrical  continuity  gone,  the  cable 
having  parted  after  two  miles  in  all  had  been  paid  out.  1 

Since  i  a.m.,  engaged  in  hauling  in  our  cable.  Recovered  all 
our  portion  and  even  managed  to  heave  up  the  splice  frame  (in 
perfect  condition),  besides  100  fathoms  of  Niagaras  cable,  which 
she  had  parted.  Fastened  splice  to  stern  of  vessel  and  ceased 

9.23  a.m.,  second  experiment.  Started  paying  out  again. 
Weather  very  misty. 

9.40,  one  mile  paid  out  at  strain  16  cwt.  ;  angle  of  cable  16° 
with  the  horizon  ;  running  out  straight  ;  rate  of  ship  2,  cable  3. 

9.45,  changed  to  lower  hold.  9.56,  two  miles  out ;  last  mile 
in  i6J  minutes  ;  strain  17  to  20  cwt.  ;  angle  of  cable  20°.  10.10 
last  three  miles  out  in  14  minutes. 

1  This  did  not,  of  course,  come  as  a  surprise  ;  for  the  length  of 
cable  employed  for  these  experiments  had  long  since  been  condemned 
as  imperfect. 


10.32  a.m.,  four  and  a  half  miles  out.  Third  experiment 
stopped  ship,  lowered  guard,  stoppered  cable. 

10.50,  buoy  let  go,  strain  16  cwt.  when  let  go,  the  cable  being 
nearly  up  and  down,  n.6,  running  at  rate  of  5j  knots  paying 
out,  strain  21  to  23  cwt.,  varying.  Cable  shortly  afterwards 
parted,  through  getting  jammed  in  the  machinery. 

The  subsequent  experiments  were  mainly  in  the  direction  of 
buoying,  picking  up,  and  passing  the  cable  from  the  stern  to  the 
bow  sheave  for  picking  up.  All  of  these  operations  were  in  turn 
successfully  performed ;  and,  finally,  in  paying  out,  a  speed  of 
seven  knots  was  attained  without  difficulty. 

And  now,  the  programme  being  exhausted,  there  was 
nothing  left  to  be  done  but  to  return  to  Plymouth.  On  the 
whole,  the  trip  proved  eminently  satisfactory.  The  paying- 
out  machinery  had  behaved  well,  the  various  engineering 
operations  had  been  successfully  performed,  and  the  elec- 
trical working  through  the  whole  cable  was  perfect.  Pro- 
fessor Thomson  had  brought  with  him  that  offspring  of  his 
brain — his  reflecting  and  testing  instrument — and  this  gave 
excellent  results. 

The  Storm 

The  "wire  ships"  thus  additionally  experienced  arrived 
at  Plymouth  on  Thursday,  June  3rd.  The  results  were  duly 
reported  by  Charles  Bright,  and  some  further  arrange- 
ments made,  principally  connected  with  the  electrical 

A  week  later— having  taken  in  a  fresh  supply  of  coal— 


the  expedition  again  left  England  "  with  fair  skies  and  bright 
prospects."  The  barometer  standing  at  30*64,  it  was  an 
auspicious  start  in  what  was  declared  by  a  consensus  of 
nautical  authorities  to  be  the  best  time  of  the  year  for  the 
Atlantic.  This  prognostication  was  doomed  to  a  terrible  dis- 
appointment, for  the  voyage  nearly  ended  in  the  Agamemnon 
"  turning  turtle."  She  was  repeatedly  almost  on  her  beam 
ends,  the  cable  was  partly  shifted,  and  a  large  number  of 
those  on  board  were  more  or  less  seriously  injured. 

Charles  Bright,  with  Messrs.  Canning  and  Clifford,  were — 
as  during  the  trial  trip — on  the  Agamemnon,  and  also  Pro- 
fessor Thomson,  who  again  took  charge  of  the  electricians' 
department,  Mr.  Whitehouse  being  ashore.  Messrs.  Everett 
and  Woodhouse  were  once  more  on  the  Niagara,  with  Mr. 
de  Sauty  superintending  the  signalling.  Mr.  Cyrus  Field, 
as  before,  sailed  in  the  American  ship. 

In  order  that  laying  operations  should  be  started  by  the 
two  ships  in  mid-ocean,  it  was  arranged  that  the  entire 
fleet  should  meet  in  lat.  52°2',  and  long.  33°i8/  as  a  ren- 
dezvous. The  Porcupine,  the  smallest  ship  of  the  squadron, 
had  been  sent  to  St.  John's,  Nova  Scotia,  with  orders  to 
meet  the  Niagara  on  her  way  to  Trinity  Bay.  Besides 
the  laying  vessels,  there  were  the  Valorous  and  the  Gorgon, 
the  former  acting  as  an  escort  to  the  Agamemnon,  and  the 
latter  doing  similar  duty  for  the  Niagara. 

As  it  is  impossible  to  follow  the  movements  of  more 
than  one  ship  at  a  time,  and  as  the  vessel  which  Charles 
Bright  sailed  with — the  Agamemnon — had  the  more  ex- 
citing experience,  we  will  confine  our  attention  to  her  up  to 
the  date  of  the  rendezvous.  The  day  after  starting  there  was 


no  wind,  but  on  the  Saturday,  the  i2th,  a  breeze  sprang 
up,  and,  with  screw  hoisted  and  fires  raked  out,  the 
Agamemnon  bowled  along  at  a  rare  pace  under  royals 
and  studding  sails.  The  barometer  fell  fast,  and  squally 
weather  coming  on  with  the  boisterous  premonitory 
symptoms  of  an  Atlantic  gale,  even  those  least  versed  in 
such  matters  could  see  at  a  glance  that  they  were  "  in 
for  it." 

On  Sunday  the  sky  was  a  wretched  mist — half  rain,  half 
vapour — through  which  the  attendant  vessels  loomed  faintly 
like  shadows.  The  gale  increased  ;  till  at  four  in  the  after- 
noon the  good  ship  was  rushing  through  the  foam  under 
close-reefed  topsails  and  foresail.  That  night  the  storm 
got  worse,  and  most  of  the  squadron  gradually  parted 
company.  The  ocean  resembled  one  vast  snowdrift,  the 
whitish  glare  from  which — reflected  from  the  dark  clouds 
that  almost  rested  on  the  sea — had  a  tremendous  and  un- 
natural effect,  as  if  the  ordinary  laws  of  nature  had  been 

Very  heavy  weather  continued  till  the  following  Sunday, 
June  20 th,  which  ushered  in  as  fierce  a  storm  as  ever 
swept  over  the  Atlantic.  The  narrative  of  this  fight  of 
nautical  science  with  the  elements  may  best  be  continued 
in  the  words  of  Mr.  Nicholas  Woods,  who,  representing  The 
Times,  was  an  eye-witness  throughout— especially  as  it  is 
probably  the  most  intensely  realistic  description  of  a  storm 
that  has  ever  been  written  :— 

The  Niagara,  which  had  hitherto  kept  close— whilst  the  other 
smaller  vessels  had  dropped  out  of  sight— began  to  give  us  a 


very  wide  berth,  and,  as  darkness  increased,  it  was  a  case  of  every 
one  for  themselves. 

Our  ship,  the  Agamemnon,  rolling  many  degrees,  was  labouring 
so  heavily  that  she  looked  like  breaking  up.  The  massive  beams 
under  her  upper  deck  coil  cracked  and  snapped  with  a  noise 
resembling  that  of  small  artillery,  almost  drowning  the  hideous 
roar  of  the  wind  as  it  moaned  and  howled  through  the  rigging. 
Those  in  the  improvised  cabins  on  the  main  deck  had  little  sleep 
that  night,  for  the  upper  deck  planks  above  them  were  "  working 
themselves  free,"  as  sailors  say  ;  and,  beyond  a  doubt,  they  were 
infinitely  more  free  than  easy,  for  they  groaned  under  the  pressure 
of  the  coil,  and  availed  themselves  of  the  opportunity  to  let  in 
a  little  light,  with  a  good  deal  of  water,  at  every  roll.  The  sea, 
too,  kept  striking  with  dull  heavy  violence  against  the  vessel's 
bows,  forcing  its  way  through  hawse-holes  and  ill-closed  ports 
with  a  heavy  slush  ;  and  thence,  hissing  and  winding  aft,  it 
roused  the  occupants  of  the  cabins  aforesaid  to  a  knowledge 
that  their  floors  were  under  water,  and  that  the  flotsam  and 
jetsam  noises  they  heard  beneath  were  only  caused  by  their 
outfit  for  the  voyage  taking  a  cruise  of  its  own  in  some  five 
or  six  inches  of  dirty  bilge.  Such  was  Sunday  night,  and 
such  was  a  fair  average  of  all  the  nights  throughout  the  week, 
varying  only  from  bad  to  worse.  On  Monday  things  became 

The  barometer  was  lower,  and,  as  a  matter  of  course,  the  wind 
and  sea  were  infinitely  higher  than  the  day  before.  It  was 
singular,  but  at  12  o'clock  the  sun  pierced  through  the  pall  of 
clouds,  and  shone  brilliantly  for  half  an  hour,  and  during  that 
brief  time  it  blew  as  it  has  not  often  blown  before.  So  fierce 
was  this  gust,  that  its  roar  drowned  every  other  sound,  and  it 
was  almost  impossible  to  give  the  watch  the  necessary  orders  for 
taking  in  the  close-reefed  foresail.  This  gust  passed,  and  the 
usual  gale  set  in — now  blowing  steadily  from  the  south-west,  and 
taking  us  more  and  more  out  of  our  course  each  minute.  Every 
hour  the  storm  got  worse,  till  towards  five  in  the  afternoon— 
when  it  raged  with  such  a  violence  of  wind  and  sea  that  matters 


really  looked  "  desperate  "  even  for  such  a  strong  and  large  ship 
as  the  Agamemnon.  The  upper  deck  coil  had  strained  her  decks 
throughout ;  and,  though  this  mass,  in  theory,  was  supposed  to 
prevent  her  rolling  so  quickly  and  heavily  as  she  would  have 
done  without  it,  yet  still  she  heeled  over  to  such  an  alarming 
extent  that  fears  of  the  coil  itself  shifting  again  occupied  every 
mind,  and  it  was  accordingly  strengthened  with  additional 
shores  bolted  down  to  the  deck.  The  space  occupied  by  the  main 
coil  below  had  deprived  the  Agamemnon  of  several  of  her  coal 
bunkers  ;  and  in  order  to  make  up  for  this  deficiency,  as  well  as 
to  endeavour  to  counterbalance  the  immense  mass  which  weighed 
her  down  by  the  head,  a  large  quantity  of  coals  had  been  stowed 
on  the  deck  aft.  On  each  side  of  her  main  deck  were  thirty-five 
tons,  secured  in  a  mass,  while  on  the  lower  deck  ninety  tons  were 
stowed  away  in  the  same  manner.  The  precautions  taken  to 
secure  these  huge  masses  also  required  attention  as  the  great 
ship  surged  from  side  to  side.  Everything,  therefore,  was  made 
"snug,"  as  sailors  call  it;  though  their  efforts  by  no  means 
resulted  in  the  comfort  which  might  have  been  expected  from  the 
term.  The  night  passed  over  without  any  mischance  beyond 
the  smashing  of  all  things  incautiously  left  loose  and  capable  of 
rolling,  and  one  or  two  attempts  which  the  Agamemnon  made 
in  the  middle  watch  to  turn  bottom  upwards.  In  other  matters 
it  was  the  mere  ditto  of  Sunday  night ;  except,  perhaps,  a  little 
worse,  and  certainly  much  more  wet  below.  Tuesday,  the  gale 
continued  with  unabated  force  ;  though  the  barometer  had  risen 
to  2930,  and  there  was  sufficient  sun  to  take  a  clear  observation, 
which  showed  our  distance  from  the  rendezvous  to  be  563  miles. 
During  this  afternoon  the  Niagara  joined  company,  and,  the 
wind  going  more  ahead,  the  Agamemnon  took  to  violent  pitching, 
plunging  steadily  into  the  trough  of  the  sea  as  if  she  meant  to 
break  her  back  and  lay  the  Atlantic  cable  in  a  heap.  This  change 
in  her  motion  strained  and  taxed  every  inch  of  timber  near  the 
coils  to  the  very  utmost.  It  was  curious  to  see  how  they  worked 
and  bent  as  the  Agamemnon  went  at  everything  she  met  head  first. 
One  time  she  pitched  so  heavily  as  to  break  one  of  the  main-beams 


of  the  lower  deck,  which  had  to  be  shored  with  screw-jacks 
forthwith.  Saturday,  June  igth,  things  looked  a  little  better. 
The  barometer  seemed  inclined  to  go  up  and  the  sea  to  go  down  ; 
and  for  the  first  time  that  morning — since  the  gale  began  some 
six  days  previous — the  decks  could  be  walked  with  tolerable 
comfort  and  security.  But,  alas  !  appearances  are  as  deceitful 
in  the  Atlantic  as  elsewhere  ;  and  during  a  comparative  calm 
that  afternoon  the  glass  fell  lower,  while  a  thin  line  of  black  haze 
to  windward  seemed  to  grow  up  until  it  covered  the  heavens 
with  a  sombre  darkness,  and  warned  us  that  the  worst  was  yet 
to  come.  There  was  much  heavy  rain  that  evening,  and  then 
the  wind  began — not  violently,  nor  in  gusts,  but  with  a  steadily 
increasing  force.  The  sea  was  "  ready-built  to  hand,"  as  sailors 
say  ;  so  at  first  the  storm  did  little  more  than  urge  on  the  ponder- 
ous masses  of  water  with  redoubled  force,  and  fill  the  air  with  the 
foam  and  spray  it  tore  from  their  rugged  crests.  By-and-by, 
however,  it  grew  more  dangerous,  and  Captain  Preedy  himself 
remained  on  deck  throughout  the  middle  watch. 

At  4  a.m.,  sail  was  shortened  to  close-reefed  fore  and  main- 
topsails  and  reefed  foresail.  This  was  a  long  and  tedious  job, 
for  the  wind  so  roared  and  howled,  and  the  hiss  of  the  boiling 
sea  was  so  deafening,  that  words  of  command  were  useless  ;  and 
the  men  aloft — holding  on  with  all  their  might  to  the  yards  as 
the  ship  rolled  over  and  over  almost  to  the  water — were  quite 
incapable  of  struggling  with  the  masses  of  wet  canvas,  that 
flapped  and  plunged  as  if  men,  yards  and  everything  were  going 
away  together.  The  ship  was  almost  as  wet  inside  as  out — and 
so  things  wore  on  till  8  or  9  o'clock,  everything  getting  adrift  and 
being  smashed,  and  every  one  on  board  jamming  themselves 
up  in  corners  or  holding  on  to  beams  to  prevent  their  going  adrift 
likewise.  At  10  o'clock  the  good  ship  was  rolling  and  labouring 
fearfully,  with  the  sky  getting  darker,  and  both  wind  and  sea 
increasing  every  minute.  Half  an  hour  later  three  or  four  gigan- 
tic waves  were  seen  approaching  the  ship,  coming  slowly  on 
through  the  mist,  nearer  and  nearer,  rolling  on  like  hills  of  green 
water,  with  a  crown  of  foam  that  seemed  to  double  their  height. 



The  Agamemnon  rose  heavily  to  the  first,  and  then  went  down 
quickly  into  the  deep  trough  of  the  sea,  falling  over  in  the  act, 
so  as  to  nearly  capsize  on  the  port  side.     There  was  a  fearful 
crashing  as  she  lay  over  this  way,  for  everything  broke  adrift, 
whether  secured  or  not,  and  the  uproar  and  confusion  were  ter- 
rific for  a  minute  ;  then  back  she  came  again  on  the  starboard 
beam  in  the  same  manner — only  quicker  and  deeper  than  before. 
Again,  there  was  the  same  noise  and  crashing,  and  the  officers  in 
the  ward-room,  realising  the  danger,  struggled  to  their  feet  and 
opened  the  door  leading  to  the  main  deck.     The  scene,  for  an 
instant,   defied   description.     Amid  loud  shouts  and  efforts  to 
save  themselves,   a  confused  mass  of  sailors,  boys,  and  marines 
with  deck-buckets,  ropes,  ladders,  and  everything  that  could  get 
loose,  and  which  had  fallen  back  to  the  port  side — were  being 
hurled  again  in  a  mass  across  the  ship  to  starboard.     Dimly,  and 
only  for  a  moment,  could  this  be  seen  ;  and  then,  with  a  tremen- 
dous crash,  as  the  ship  fell  over  still  deeper,  the  coals  stowed  on 
the  main  deck  broke  loose,  and,  smashing  everything  before  them, 
went  over  among  the  rest  to  leeward.     The  coal-dust  hid  every- 
thing on  the  main  deck  in  an  instant ;   but  the  crashing  could 
still  be  'heard  going  on  in  all  directions,  as  the  lumps  and  sacks 
of  coal,  with  stanchions,  ladders,  and  mess-tins,  went  leaping 
about  the  decks,  pouring  down  the  hatchways,  and  crashing 
through  the  glass  skylights  into  the  engine-room  below.     Matters 
now  became  most  serious  ;   for  it  was  evident  that  two  or  three 
more  such  lurches  and  the  masts  would  go  like  reeds,  while  half 
the  crew  might  be  maimed  or  killed  below.     Captain  Preedy  was 
already  on  the  poop,  with  Lieutenant  Gibson,  and  it  was  "  Hands, 
wear  ship,"  at  once  ;    while  Mr.  Brown,  the  indefatigable  chief 
engineer,  was  ordered  to  get  up  steam  immediately.     The  crew 
gained  the  deck  with  difficulty,  and  not  till  after  a  lapse  of  some 
minutes  ;    for  all  the  ladders  had  been  broken  away,  the  men 
were  grimed  with  coal-dust,  and  many  bore  still  more  serious 
marks  upon  their  faces  of  how  they  had  been  knocked  about 
below.     There  was  great  confusion  at  first,  for  the  storm  was 
fearful.     The  officers  were  quite  inaudible  ;  and  a  wild,  dangerous, 




sea,  running  mountains  high,  heeled  the  great  ship  backwards 
and  forwards,  so  that  the  crew  were  unable  to  keep  their  feet  for 
an  instant,  and  in  some  cases  were  thrown  right  across  the  decks. 
Two  marines  went  with  a  rush  head-foremost  into  the  paying- 
out  machine,  as  if  they  meant  to  butt  it  over  the  side  ;  yet, 
strange  to  say,  neither  the  men  nor  the  machine  suffered.  What 
made  matters  worse,  the  ship's  barge,  though  lashed  down  to  the 
deck,  had  partly  broken  loose  ;  and  dropping  from  side  to  side 
as  the  vessel  lurched,  it  threatened  to  crush  any  who  ventured 
to  pass.  The  regular  discipline  of  the  ship,  however,  soon  pre- 
vailed ;  and  the  crew  set  to  work  to  wear  round  the  ship  on  the 
starboard  tack,  while  Lieutenants  Robinson  and  Murray  went 
below  to  see  after  those  who  had  been  hurt.  The  marine  sentry 
v  outside  the  ward-room  door  on  the  main  deck  had  not  had  time 
to  escape,  and  was  completely  buried  under  the  coals.  Some 
time  elapsed  before  he  could  be  got  out ;  for  one  of  the  beam  s 
which  had  crushed  his  arm  very  badly,  still  lay  across  the  man- 
gled limb — jamming  it  in  such  a  manner  that  it  was  found  im- 
possible to  remove  it  without  risking  the  man's  life.  The  timber 
had,  indeed,  to  be  sawn  away  before  the  poor  fellow  could  be 
extricated.  Another  marine  on  the  lower  deck  endeavoured  to 
save  himself  by  catching  hold  of  what  seemed  like  a  ledge  in  the 
planks  ;  but,  unfortunately,  it  was  only  caused  by  the  beams 
straining  apart,  and,  of  course,  as  the  Agamemnon  righted  they 
closed  again,  and  crushed  his  fingers  flat.  One  of  the  assistant 
engineers  was  also  buried  among  the  coals  on  the  lower  deck,  and 
sustained  some  severe  internal  injuries.  The  lurch  of  the  ship 
was  calculated  at  forty-five  degrees  each  way  for  five  times  in  rapid 
succession.  The  galley  coppers  were  only  half  filled  with  soup  ; 
nevertheless,  it  nearly  all  poured  out,  and  scalded  some  of  those 
who  were  extended  on  the  decks,  holding  on  to  anything  in  reach. 
These,  with  a  dislocation,  were  the  chief  casualties  ;  but  there 
were  others  of  bruises  and  contusions,  more  or  less  severe,  and  a 
long  list  of  escapes  more  marvellous  than  any  injury.  One  poor 
fellow  went  head-first  from  the  main  deck  into  the  hold  without 
being  hurt  ;  and  one  on  the  orlop  deck  was  "  chevied  "  .about 


for  some  ten  minutes  by  three  large  casks  of  oil  which  had  got 
adrift,  and  any  one  of  which  would  have  flattened  him  like  a 
pancake  had  it  overtaken  him. 

As  soon  as  the  Agamemnon  had  gone  round  on  the  other  tack 
the  Niagara  wore  also,  and  bore  down  as  if  to  render  assistance. 
She  had  witnessed  our  danger,  and,  as  we  afterwards  learnt, 
imagined  that  the  upper  deck  coil  had  broken  loose  and  that  we 
were  sinking.  Things,  however,  were  not  so  bad  as  that,  though 
they  were  bad  enough,  Heaven  knows,  for  everything  seemed  to 
have  gone  wrong  that  day.  The  upper  deck  coil  had  strained 
the  ship  to  the  very  utmost,  yet  still  held  on  fast.  But  not  so 
the  coil  in  the  main  hold.  This  had  begun  to  get  adrift,  and 
the  top  kept  working  and  shifting  over  from  side  to  side,  as  the 
ship  lurched,  until  some  forty  or  fifty  miles  were  in  a  hopeless 
state  of  tangle,  resembling  nothing  so  much  as  a  cargo  of  live 

Going  round  upon  the  starboard  tack  had  eased  the  ship  to  a 
certain  extent.  The  crew,  who  had  been  at  work  since  nearly 
four  in  the  morning,  were  set  to  clear  up  the  decks  from  the  masses 
of  coal  that  covered  them.  About  six  in  the  evening  it  was 
thought  better  to  wear  ship  once  more  and  stand  by  for  the 
rendezvous  under  easy  steam.  Her  head  accordingly  was  put 
about  and  once  more  faced  the  storm.  As  she  went  round,  she  of 
course  fell  into  the  trough  of  the  sea  again,  rolling  so  awfully 
as  to  break  her  waste  steam-pipe,  filling  her  engine-room  with 
steam,  and  depriving  her  of  the  services  of  one  boiler  when  it  was 
sorely  needed.  The  sun  set  upon  as  wild  and  wicked  a  night  as 
ever  taxed  the  courage  and  coolness  of  a  sailor.  There  were,  of 
course,  men  on  board  who  were  familiar  with  gales  and  storms  in 
all  parts  of  the  world  ;  and  there  were  some  who  had  witnessed 
the  tremendous  hurricane  which  swept  the  Black  Sea  on  the 
memorable  November  I4th,  when  scores  of  vessels  were  lost  and 
seamen  perished  by  the  thousand.  But  of  all  on  board  none  had 
ever  seen  a  fiercer  or  more  dangerous  sea  than  raged  throughout 
that  night  and  the  following  morning,  tossing  the  good  ship  from 
side  to  side  like  a  mere  plaything  among  the  waters.  The  night 


was  thick  and  very  dark,  the  low  black  clouds  almost  hemming 
the  vessel  in ;  now  and  then  a  fiercer  blast  than  usual  drove  the 
great  masses  slowly  aside,  and  showed  the  moon,  a  dim,  greasy 
blotch  upon  the  sky,  with  the  ocean — white  as  driven  snow- 
boiling  and  seething  like  a  cauldron.  But  these  were  only 
glimpses,  alternated  with  darkness,  through  which  the  waves 
rushed  upon  the  ship  as  though  they  must  overwhelm  it,  and 
dealing  it  one  staggering  blow,  went  hissing  and  surging  past  into 
the  darkness  again.  The  grandeur  of  the  scene  was  almost  lost 
in  its  dangers  and  terrors,  for  of  all  the  many  forms  in  which 
death  approaches  man  there  is  none  so  easy  in  fact,  so  terrific 
in  appearance,  as  death  by  shipwreck. 

Sleep  was  impossible  that  night  on  board  the  Agamemnon. 
Even  those  in  cots  were  thrown  out,  from  their  striking  against 
the  vessel's  side  as  she  pitched.  The  berths  of  wood  fixed  athwart- 
ships  in  the  cabins  on  the  main  deck  had  worked  to  pieces.  Chairs 
and  tables  were  broken,  chests  of  drawers  capsized,  and  a  little 
surf  was  running  over  the  floors  of  the  cabins  themselves,  pour- 
ing miniature  seas  into  portmanteaus,  and  breaking  over  carpet- 
bags of  clean  linen.  Fast  as  it  flowed  off  by  the  scuppers  it  came 
in  faster  by  the  hawse-holes  and  ports,  while  the  beams  and 
knees  strained  with  a  doleful  noise,  as  though  it  was  impossible 
they  could  hold  together  much  longer.  It  was,  indeed,  as  anxious 
a  night  as  ever  was  passed  on  board  any  line-of-battle  ship  in 
Her  Majesty's  service.  Captain  Preedy  never  left  the  poop 
throughout — though  it  was  hard  work  to  remain  there,  even 
holding  on  to  the  poop-rail  with  both  hands.  Morning  brought  no 
change.  The  storm  was  as  fierce  as  ever  ;  and  whilst  the  sea 
could  not  be  higher  or  wilder,  the  additional  amount  of  broken 
water  made  it  still  more  dangerous  to  the  ship.  Very  dimly, 
and  only  now  and  then,  through  the  thick  scud,  the  Niagara 
could  be  seen — one  moment  on  a  monstrous  hill  of  water  and  the 
next  quite  lost  to  view,  as  the  Agamemnon  went  down  between 
the  waves.  Even  these  glimpses  showed  us  that  our  Transatlantic 
consort  was  plunging  heavily,  shipping  seas,  and  evidently  having 
a  bad  time  oi  it.  But  she  got  through  it  better  than  the  Agamem- 


non,  as  of  course  she  could.  Suddenly  it  came  on  darker  and 
thicker,  and  we  lost  sight  of  her  in  the  thick  spray,  and  had  only 
ourselves  to  look  after.  This  was  quite  enough,  for  every  minute 
made  matters  worse,  and  the  aspect  of  affairs  began  to  excite 
serious  misgivings  in  the  minds  of  those  in  charge.  The  Agamem- 
non is  one  of  the  finest  line-of-battle  ships  in  the  whole  navy  ; 
but  in  such  a  storm,  and  so  heavily  overladen,  what  could  she 
do  but  make  bad  weather  worse,  and  strain  and  labour  and  fall 
into  the  trough  of  the  sea,  as  if  she  were  going  down  head  fore- 
most ?  Three  or  four  hours  more,  and  the  vessel  had  borne  all 
she  could  bear  with  safety.  The  masts  were  rapidly  getting 
worse,  the  deck  coil  worked  more  and  more  with  each  tremendous 
plunge  ;  and,  even  if  both  these  held,  it  was  evident  that  the 
ship  itself  would  soon  strain  to  pieces  if  the  present  weather 
continued.  The  sea,  forcing  its  way  through  ports  and  hawse- 
holes,  had  accumulated  on  the  lower  deck  to  such  an  extent 
that  it  floated  the  stoke-hole,  so  that  the  men  could  scarcely 
remain  at  their  posts.  Everything  was  smashing  and  rolling 
about.  One  plunge  put  all  the  electrical  instruments  hors  de 
combat  at  a  blow,  and  staved  some  barrels  of  strong  solution  of 
sulphate  of  copper,  which  went  cruising  about,  turning  all  it 
touched  to  a  light  pea-green.  By-and-by  we  began  to  ship  seas. 
Water  came  down  the  ventilators  near  the  funnel  into  the  engine- 
room.  Then  a  tremendous  sea  struck  us  forward,  drenching 
those  on  deck,  and  leaving  them  up  to  their  knees  in  water,  and 
the  least  versed  on  board  could  see  that  things  were  fast  going 
to  the  bad  unless  a  change  took  place  in  the  weather  or  the  con- 
dition of  the  ship.  Of  the  first  there  seemed  little  chance.  It 
certainly  showed  no  disposition  to  clear — on  the  contrary,  livid- 
looking  black  clouds  seemed  to  be  closing  round  the  vessel  faster 
than  ever.  For  the  relief  of  the  ship,  three  courses  were  open  to 
Captain  Preedy — one  to  wear  round  and  try  her  on  the  starboard 
tack,  as  he  had  been  compelled  to  do  the  day  before  ;  another, 
to  fairly  run  for  it  before  the.  wind  ;  and,  the  third  and  last,  to 
endeavour  to  lighten  the  vessel  by  getting  some  of  the  cable  over- 
bo  ard.  Of  course  the  latter  would  not  have  been  thought  of 


till  the  first  two  had  been  tried  and  failed— in  fact,  not  till  it  was 
evident  that  nothing  else  could  save  the  ship.  Against  wearing 
round  there  was  the  danger  of  her  again  falling  off  into  the  trough 
of  the  sea,  losing  her  masts,  shifting  the  upper  deck  coil,  and  so 
finding  her  way  to  the  bottom  in  ten  minutes  ;  while  to  attempt 
running  before  the  storm  with  such  a  sea  on  was  to  risk  her  stern 
being  stove  in  and  a  hundred  tons  of  water  added  to  her  burden 
with  each  wave  that  came  up  afterwards,  till  the  poor  Agamemnon 
went  under  them  all  for  ever.  A  little  after  ten  o'clock  on  Mon- 
day, the  2ist,  the  aspect  of  affairs  was  so  alarming  that  Captain 
Preedy  resolved  at  all  risks  to  try  wearing  the  ship  round  on  the 
other  tack.  It  was  hard  enough  to  make  the  words  of  command 
audible,  but  to  execute  them  seemed  almost  impossible.  The 
ship's  head  went  round  enough  to  leave  her  broadside  on  to  the 
seas,  and  then  for  a  time  it  seemed  as  if  nothing  could  be  done. 
All  the  rolls  which  she  had  ever  given  on  the  previous  day  seemed 
mere  trifles  compared  with  her  performances  then.  Of  more 
than  200  men  on  deck  at  least  150  were  thrown  down,  falling 
over  from  side  to  side  in  heaps — while  others,  holding  on  to 
ropes,  swung  to  and  fro  with  every  heave.  It  really  appeared 
as  if  the  last  hour  of  the  stout  ship  had  come,  and  to  this  minute 
it  seems  miraculous  that  her  masts  held  on.  Each  time  she  fell 
over,  her  main  chains  went  deep  under  water.  The  lower  decks 
were  flooded,  and  those  above  could  hear  by  the  fearful  crashing 
— audible  amid  the  hoarse  roar  of  the  storm — that  something 
alarming  had  happened.  It  was  then  found  that  the  coals  had, 
once  more,  got  loose  below,  had  broken  into  the  engine  room,  and 
were  carrying  all  before  them.  During  these  rolls  the  main  deck 
coil  shifted  over  to  such  a  degree  as  to  entirely  envelope  four  men, 
who,  sitting  on  the  top,  were  trying  to  wedge  it  down  with  beams. 
One  of  them  was  so  much  jammed  by  the  mass  which  came  over 
him  that  he  was  seriously  contused.  He  had  to  be  removed  to 
the  sick  bay,  making  up  the  sick  list  to  forty-five— of  which  ten 
were  from  injuries  caused  by  the  rolling  of  the  ship,  and  most  of 
the  rest  from  continual  fatigue  and  exposure  during  the  gale. 
Once  round  on  the  starboard  tack,  and  it  was  seen  in  an  instant 


that  the  ship  was  in  no  degree  relieved  by  the  change.  Another 
heavy  sea  struck  her  forward,  sweeping  clean  over  the  fore  part 
of  the  vessel,  and  carrying  away  the  woodwork  and  platforms 
which  had  been  placed  there  round  the  machinery  for  under- 
running.  This  and  a  few  more  plunges  were  quite  sufficient  to 
settle  the  matter  ;  and  at  last  Captain  Preedy  reluctantly  suc- 
cumbed to  a  storm  he  could  neither  conquer  nor  contend  against. 
Full  steam  was  got  on,  and,  with  a  foresail  and  foretopsail  to 
lift  her  head,  the  Agamemnon  ran  before  the  wind,  rolling  and 
tumbling  over  the  huge  waves  at  a  tremendous  pace.  It  was 
well  for  all  that  the  wind  gave  this  much  way  on  her,  or  her 
stern  would  certainly  have  been  stove  in.  As  it  was,  a  wave 
partly  struck  her  on  the  starboard  quarter,  smashing  the  quarter 
galley  and  ward-room  windows  on  that  side  ;  and  sending  such 
a  sea  into  the  ward-room  itself  as  to  wash  two  officers  off  a  sofa. 
This  was  a  kind  of  parting  blow  ;  for  the  glass  began  to  rise,  and 
the  storm  was  evidently  beginning  to  moderate  :  and  although 
the  sea  still  ran  as  high  as  ever,  there  was  less  broken  water,  and 
altogether,  towards  midday,  affairs  assumed  a  better  and  more 
cheerful  aspect.  The  ward-room  that  afternoon  was  a  study  for 
an  artist ;  with  its  windows  half  darkened  and  smashed,  the  sea 
water  still  slushing  about  in  odd  corners,  with  everything  that 
was  capable  of  being  broken  strewn  over  the  floor  in  pieces,  and 
some  fifteen  or  twenty  officers,  seated  amid  the  ruins,  holding 
on  to  the  deck  or  table  with  one  hand,  while  with  the  other  they 
contended  at  a  disadvantage  with  a  tough  meal — the  first  which 
most  had  eaten  for  twenty-four  hours.  Little  sleep  had  been 
indulged  in,  though  much  lolloping  about.  Those,  however,  who 
prepared  themselves  for  a  night's  rest  in  their  berths  rather  than 
at  the  ocean  bottom,  had  great  difficulty  in  finding  their  day 
garments  of  a  morning.  The  boots  especially  went  astray,  and 
got  so  hopelessly  mixed  that  the  man  who  could  "  show  up  "  with 
both  pairs  of  his  own  was,  indeed,  a  man  to  be  congratulated. 

But  all  things  have  an  end  ;  and  this  long  gale— of  over  a 
week's  duration — at  last  blew  itself  out,  and  the  weary  ocean 
rocked  itself  to  rest.  Throughout  the  whole  of  Monday  the 


Agamemnon  ran  before  the  wind,  which  moderated  so  much  that 
at  4  a.m.  on  Tuesday  her  head  was  once  more  put  about  ;  and 
for  the  second  time  she  commenced  beating  up  for  the  rendezvous, 
then  some  200  miles  further  from  us  than  when  the  storm  was  at 
its  height  on  Sunday  morning.  So  little  was  gained  against 
this  wind,  that  Friday,  the  25th— sixteen  days  after  leaving 
Plymouth — still  found  us  some  fifty  miles  from  the  rendezvous.  It 
was,  therefore,  determined  to  get  up  steam  and  run  down  on  it  at 
once.  As  we  approached  the  place  of  meeting  the  angry  sea  went 
down.  The  Valorous  hove  in  sight  at  noon  ;  in  the  afternoon  the 
Niagara  came  in  from  the  north  ;  and  at  even,  the  Gorgon  from  the 
south,  and  then,  almost  for  the  first  time  since  starting,  the 
squadron  was  re-united  near  the  spot  where  the  great  work  was 
to  have  commenced  fifteen  days  previously— as  tranquil  in 
the  middle  of  the  Atlantic  as  if  in  Plymouth  Sound. 

The  Renewed  Effort 

That  evening  the  four  vessels  lay  together  side  by  side, 
and  there  was  such  a  stillness  in  the  sea  and  air  as  would 
have  seemed  remarkable  even  on  an  inland  lake.  On  the 
Atlantic,  and  after  what  had  been  so  lately  experienced, 
it  seemed  positively  unnatural. 

The  boats  were  out,  and  the  officers  were  passing  from  ship 
to  ship,  telling  their  experiences  of  the  voyage,  and  form- 
ing plans  for  the  morrow.  Captain  Preedy  had  a  sorry 
tale  to  tell.  The  strain  to  which  the  Agamemnon  had  been 
subjected  during  the  storm— by  the  great  weight,  rendering 
her  almost  unmanageable,  and  owing  to  the  peculiar  nature 
of  her  cargo — had  opened  her  "  waterways,"  where  the  deck 
and  the  sides  were  joined,  by  about  two  inches.  Then 


again,  one  of  the  crew,  a  marine,  had  been  literally  fright- 
ened out  of  his  wits,  and  remained  crazy  for  some  days. 
One  man  had  his  arm  fractured  in  two  places,  and  another 
his  leg  broken. 

The  Niagara,  on  the  other  hand,  had  weathered  the  gale 
splendidly,  though  nevertheless  with  her  it  had  been  a 
hard  and  anxious  time.  She  had  lost  her  jib-boom,  and 
the  buoys  she  carried  for  suspending  the  cable  had  been 
washed  from  her  sides,  no  man  knew  where.  After  taking 
stock  of  things  generally,  a  start  was  made  to  repair  the 
damage.  The  shifting  of  the  upper  part  of  the  main  coil  on 
the  Agamemnon  into  a  hopeless  tangle,  entailed  recoiling 
a  considerable  length  of  cable. 

I  We  will  now  once  more  continue  our  narrative  in  the  words 
of  Mr.  Nicholas  Woods,  in  reporting  for  The  Times  from 
the  Agamemnon  :— 

Neither  Mr.  Bright,  nor  Mr.  Canning,  nor  Mr.  Clifford  was 
to  be  daunted  by  the  aspect  of  a  difficulty,  however  formidable. 
Absurd  as 'the  statement  seemed  at  first,  they  were  all  positive 
that  the  tangle  did  not  extend  far  down  the  coil ;  and  they 
were  right.  Captain  Preedy  gave  them  his  hearty  assistance  ; 
men  were  at  work  day  and  night,  drawing  it  out  of  the  hold 
and  coiling  it  aft  on  the  main  deck.  For  the  first  twenty-four 
hours  the  labour  seemed  hopeless,  for  so  dense  was  the  tangle 
that  an  hour's  hard  work  would  sometimes  scarcely  clear  a 
half-mile.  By-and-by,  however,  it  began  to  mend,  the  efforts 
were  redoubled,  and  late  on  Friday  night  140  miles  had  been 
got  out,  the  remainder  being  clear  enough  to  start  work  with. 
On  the  morning  of  Saturday,  the  26th  of  June,  all  the  prepara- 
tions were  completed  for  making  the  splice  and  commencing 
the  great  undertaking. 

The  end  of  the  Niagara  s  cable  was  sent  on  board  the  Agamem- 


non,  the  splice  was  made,  a  bent  sixpence  put  in  for  luck,  and 
at  2.50,  Greenwich  time,  it  was  slowly  lowered  over  the  side, 
and  disappeared  for  ever.  The  weather  was  cold  and  foggy, 
with  a  stiff  breeze  and  dismal  sort  of  sleet,  and  as  there  was  no 
cheering  or  manifestation  of  enthusiasm  of  any  kind,  the  whole 
ceremony  had  a  most  funereal  effect,  seeming  as  solemn  as  if 
we  were  burying  a  marine,  or  some  similar  mortuary  task.  As 
it  turned  out,  however,  it  was  just  as  well  that  no  display  took 
place,  for  every  one  would  have  looked  uncommonly  silly  when 
the  same  operation  came  to  be  repeated,  as  it  had  to  be,  an  hour 
or  so  afterwards.  Not  to  make  a  long  story  longer,  I  may  say 
at  once,  that  when  each  ship  had  paid  out  three  miles  or  so, 
and  they  were  getting  well  apart,  the  cable  broke  on  board  the 
Niagara,  owing  to  its  over-riding  and  getting  off  the  pulley 
leading  on  to  the  machine. 

The  mishap  was,  of  course,  instantly  detected  :  both  vessels 
put  about  and  returned,  a  fresh  splice  was  made,  and  again 
lowered  over  at  half-past  seven.  According  to  arrangement,  150 
fathoms  were  veered  out  from  each  ship,  and  then  all  stood 
away  on  their  course,  at  first  at  two  miles  an  hour  and  after- 
wards at  four.  Everything  then  went  well,  the  cable  running 
out  easily  at  five  and  a  half  miles  an  hour,  the  ship  going  four. 
The  greatest  strain  upon  the  dynamometer  was  2,500  lb.,  and 
this  was  but  for  a  few  minutes,  the  average  giving  only  2,000 
lb.  and  2,100  lb.  At  twelve  at  midnight,  21  nautical  miles 
had  been  paid  out,  and  the  angle  of  the  cable  with  the  horizon 
had  been  reduced  considerably.  At  about  half-past  three, 
forty  miles  had  gone,  and  nothing  could  be  more  perfect  and 
regular  than  the  working  of  everything,  when  suddenly,  at  3.40 
a.m.,  on  Sunday,  the  27th,  Professor  Thomson  came  on  deck, 
and  reported  a  total  break  of  continuity  ;  that  the  cable,  in 
fact,  had  parted,  and,  as  was  believed  at  the  time,  from  the 
Niagara.  •  The  Agamemnon  was  instantly  stopped,  and  the 
brakes  applied  to  the  machinery,  in  order  that  the  cable  paid 
out  might  be  severed  from  the  mass  in  the  hold,  and  so  enable 
Professor  Thomson  to  discover  by  electrical  tests  at  about  what 


distance  from  the  ship  the  fracture  had  taken  place.1  Unfor- 
tunately, however,  there  was  a  strong  breeze  on  at  the  time, 
with  rather  a  heavy  swell,  which  told  severely  upon  the  cable  ; 
and,  before  any  means  could  be  taken  to  sufficiently  ease  the 
motion  on  the  ship,  it  broke — the  dynamometer  indicating  a 
strain  of  nearly  4,000  Ib.  In  another  instant  a  gun  and  a  blue 
light  warned  the  Valorous  of  what  had  happened.  This  roused 
all  on  board  the  Agamemnon  to  a  knowledge  that  the  machinery 
was  silent,  and  that  the  first  part  of  the  Atlantic  cable  had  been 
laid — and  effectually  lost. 

The  great  length  of  cable  on  board  both  ships  allowed  a  large 
margin  for  such  mishaps  as  these  ;  and  the  arrangement  made 
before  leaving  England  was  that  the  splices  might  be  renewed 
and  the  work  recommenced  till  each  ship  had  lost  250  miles  of 
wire,  after  which  they  were  to  discontinue  their  efforts  and 
return  to  Queenstown.  Accordingly,  after  the  breakage  on 
Sunday  morning,  the  ships'  heads  were  put  about  ;  and  for  the 
fourth  time  the  Agamemnon  once  more  entered  on  the  weary 
work  of  beating  up  against  the  wind  for  that  everlasting  rendezvous 
which  we  seemed  destined  to  be  always  seeking.  Apart  from 
the  regret  with  which  all  regarded  the  loss  of  the  cable,  there  were 
other  reasons  for  not  wishing  the  cruise  to  be  thus  indefinitely 
prolonged.  The  fact  is  there  had  been  a  break  in  the  continuity 
of  fresh  provisions  ;  and  for  some  days  previous  the  pieces  de 
resistance  had  been  inflammatory-looking  morceaux,  salted  to  an 
astonishing  pitch,  and  otherwise  uneatable — for  it  was  beef 
which  had  been  kept  three  years  beyond  its  warranty  for  sound- 
ness— to  which  all  were  then  reduced. 

It  was  hard  work  beating  up  against  the  wind  ;  so  hard, 
indeed,  that  it  was  not  till  the  noon  of  Monday,  the  28th,  that 
we  again  met  the  Niagara  ;  and,  while  all  were  waiting  with 

1  By  subsequent  tests  it  was  clear  that  at  any  rate  the  cable  re- 
maining on  board  was  perfect.  But  after  comparing  notes  with  the 
Niagara,  a  strong  belief  was  held  that  the  cable  parted  probably  at 
the  bottom. 


impatience  for  her  explanation  of  how  she  broke  the  cable,  she 
electrified  every  one  by  running  up  the  interrogatory,  "  How 
did  the  cable  part  ?  "  This  was  astounding.  As  soon  as  the 
boats  could  be  lowered,  Mr.  Cyrus  Field,  with  the  electricians 
from  the  Niagara,  came  on  board  ;  and  a  comparison  of  logs 
revealed  the  painful  and  mysterious  fact  that  at  the  same  second 
of  time  both  vessels  discovered  that  a  total  fracture  had  taken 
place  at  a  distance  of  certainly  not  less  than  ten  miles  from 
each  ship.  The  logs  on  both  sides  were  so  clear  as  to  the  minute 
of  time — and  as  to  the  electrical  tests  showing  not  merely  leak- 
age or  defective  insulations  of  the  wire,  but  a  total  fracture — 
that  there  was  no  room  for  doubt  as  to  what  had  happened. 
Of  all  the  many  mishaps  connected  with  the  Atlantic  telegraph, 
this  was  the  worst  and  most  disheartennig  ;  since  it  proved 
that,  despite  wrhat  human  skill  and  science  could  effect  in  laying 
the  wire  down  with  safety,  there  may  be  some  fatal  obstacles  to 
success  at  the  bottom  of  the  ocean  which  can  never  be  guarded 
against.  Was  the  bottom  covered  with  a  soft  coating  of  ooze 
in  which  it  had  been  said  the  cable  might  rest  undisturbed  for 
years,  as  on  a  bed  of  down  ?  or  were  there,  after  all,  sharp- 
pointed  rocks  lying  on  that  supposed  plateau  of  Maury,  Berry- 
man  and  Dayman  ?  These  were  the  questions  that  some  of 
those  on  board  were  asking. 

But  there  was  no  use  in  further  conjecture,  or  in  repining  over 
what  had  already  happened.  Though  the  prospect  of  success 
appeared  to  be  considerably  impaired,  it  was  generally  con- 
sidered that  there  was  but  one  course  left,,  and  that  was  to  splice 
again  and  make  another — and  what  was  fondly  hoped  would 
be  a  final — attempt.  Accordingly,  no  time  was  lost  in  making 
the  third  splice,  which  was  lowered  into  2,000  fathoms  of  water 
at  seven  o'clock  that  evening.  Before  steaming  away — as  the 
Agamemnon  was  now  getting  very  short  of  coal — it  was  agreed 
that  if  the  wire  parted  again  before  the  ships  had  gone  each  100 
miles  from  the  rendezvous  they  were  to  return  and  make  another 
splice.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  the  100  miles  had  been  exceeded, 
the  ships  were  not  to  return,  but  each  make  for  Queenstown, 


With  this  understanding  the  ships  again  parted  ;  and,  with  the 
wire  dropping  steadily  down  between  them,  the  Niagara  and 
Agamemnon  steamed  away,  and  were  soon  lost  in  the  cold  raw 
fog  which  had  hung  over  the  rendezvous  ever  since  the  operations 
had  commenced. 

The  cable,  as  before,  paid  out  beautifully,  and  nothing  could 
have  been  more  regular  and  more  easy  than  the  working  of  every 
part  of  the  apparatus.  At  first  the  ship's  speed  was  only  two 
knots,  the  cable  going  three,  with  a  strain  of  1,500  lb.,  the  hori- 
zontal angle  averaging  as  low  as  seven,  and  the  vertical  about 
sixteen.  By-and-by,  however,  the  speed  was  increased  to  four 
knots,  the  cable  going  five,  at  a  strain  of  2,000  lb.,  and  an  angle 
of  from  twelve  to  fifteen.  At  this  rate  it  was  kept,  with  trifling 
variations,  throughout  Monday  night,  neither  Mr.  Bright,  Mr. 
Canning,  nor  Mr.  Clifford  ever  quitting  the  machine  for  an 
instant.  Towards  the  middle  of  the  night,  while  the  rate  of  the 
ship  continued  the  same,  the  speed  at  which  the  cable  paid  out 
slackened  nearly  a  knot,  while  the  dynamometer  indicated  as 
low  as  1,300  lb.  This  change  could  only  be  accounted  for  on 
the  supposition  that  the  water  had  shallowed  to  a  considerable 
extent,  and  that  the  vessel  was,  in  fact,  passing  over  some  sub- 
marine Ben  Nevis  or  Skiddaw.  After  an  interval  of  about  an 
hour  the  strain  and  rate  of  progress  of  the  cable  increased  again, 
while  the  increase  of  the  vertical  angle  seemed  to  indicate  that 
the  wire  was  sinking  down  the  side  of  a  declivity.  Beyond  this 
there  was  no  variation  throughout  Monday  night,  or,  indeed, 
through  Tuesday.  The  upper  deck  coil,  which  had  weighed  so 
heavily  upon  the  ship — and  still  more  heavily  upon  the  minds 
of  all  during  the  past  storms — was  fast  disappearing,  and  by 
twelve  at  midday  on  Tuesday,  the  29th,  seventy-six  miles  had 
been  paid  out  to  something  like  sixty  miles  progress  of  the  ship. 
Warned  by  repeated  failures,  many  of  those  on  board  scarcely 
dared  to  hope  for  success ;  but  the  spirits  of  all  rose  as  the  dis- 
tance widened  between  the  ships.  Things  were  going  in  splendid 
style — in  such  splendid  style  that  "stock  had  gone  up  nearly 
100  per  cent."  Those  who  had  leisure  for  sleep  were  able  to 


dream  about  cable-laying  and  the  terrible  effects  of  too  great  a 
strain.  The  first  question  which  such  as  these  ask  on  awakening 
is  about  the  cable.  For  those  who  do  not  derive  any  particular 
pleasure  from  the  mere  asking  of  questions,  the  harmonious 
music  made  by  the  paying-out  machine  during  its  revolutions 
supplies  the  necessary  information. 

Then,  again,  the  electrical  continuity — after  all  the  most  im- 
portant item — was  perfect,  and  the  electricians  reported  that 
the  signals  passing  between  the  ships  were  eminently  satisfactory. 
The  door  of  the  testing-room  is  almost  always  shut,  and  the 
electricians  pursue  their  work  undisturbed  ;  but  it  is  impossible 
to  exclude  that  spirit  of  scientific  inquiry  which  will  satiate  its 
thirst  for  information  even  through  a  keyhole  !  Further,  the 
weather  was  all  that  could  be  wished  for.  Indeed,  had  the  poet 
who  was  so  anxious  for  "  life  on  the  ocean  wave,  and  a  home  on 
the  rolling  deep  "  been  aboard,  he  would  have  been  absolutely 
happy,  and  perhaps  even  more  desirous  for  a  fixed  habitation. 

The  only  cause  that  warranted  anxiety  was  that  it  was  evident 
the  upper  deck  coil  would  be  finished  by  about  eleven  o'clock  at 
night,  when  the  men  would  have  to  pass  along  in  darkness  the 
great  loop  which  formed  the  communication  between  that  and 
the  coil  in  the  main  hold.  This  was  most  unfortunate  ;  but  the 
operation  had  been  successfully  performed  in  daylight  during 
the  experimental  trip  in  the  Bay  of  Biscay,  and  every  precaution 
was  now  taken  that  no  accident  should  occur.  At  nine  o'clock 
by  ship's  time,  when  146  miles  had  been  paid  out,  and  about 
112  miles  distance  from  the  rendezvous  accomplished,  the  last 
flake  but  one  of  the  upper  deck  coil  came  in  turn  to  be  used.  In 
order  to  make  it  easier  in  passing  to  the  main  coil,  the  revolu- 
tions of  the  screw  were  reduced  gradually,  by  two  revolutions 
at  a  time,  from  thirty  to  twenty,  while  the  paying-out  machine 
went  slowly  from  thirty-six  to  twenty- two.  At  this  rate,  the 
vessel  going  three  knots  and  the  cable  three  and  a  half,  the  oper- 
ation was  continued  with  perfect  regularity,  the  dynamometer 
indicating  a  strain  of  2,100  Ib.  Suddenly,  without  an  instant's 
warning,  or  the  occurrence  of  any  single  incident  that  could 


account  for  it,  the  cable  parted,  when  subjected  to  a  strain  of 
less  than  a  ton.1  The  gun  that  again  told  the  Valorous  of  this 
fatal  mishap  brought  all  on  board  the  Agamemnon  rushing  to 
the  deck.  This  time,  few  could  believe  the  rumour,  that  had 
spread  like  wildfire  about  the  ship  ;  but  there  stood  the  machine 
silent  and  motionless,  while  the  fractured  end  of  the  wire  hung 
over  the  stern  wheel,  swinging  loosely  to  and  fro.  It  seemed 
almost  impossible  to  realise  the  fact  that  an  accident  so  instan- 
taneous and  irremediable  should  have  occurred,  and  at  a  time 
when  all  seemed  to  be  going  so  well.  A  variety  of  ingenious 
suggestions  were,  however,  soon  afloat,  showing  most  satis- 
factorily how  the  cable  must  and  ought  to  have  broken.  There 
was  a  regular  gloom  that  night  on  board  the  Agamemnon.  From 
first  to  last  the  success  of  the  expedition  had  been  uppermost 
in  the  thoughts  of  all.  Every  one  had  laboured  for  it  early 
and  late,  contending  with  each  danger  and  overcoming  numer- 
ous obstacles  and  disasters  with  an  earnestness  and  devotion 
of  purpose  that  is  beyond  all  praise.  Immediately  after  the 
mishap,  a  brief  consultation  was  held  by  those  in  charge.  As 
it  was  shown  that  they  had  only  exceeded  the  distance  from  the 
rendezvous  by  fourteen  miles,  and  as  there  was  still  enough  cable 
on  board  the  two  vessels,  it  was  determined  to  return  to  the 
rendezvous  with  a  view  to  making  another  effort  at  carrying  the 
undertaking  to  a  successful  issue.  The  journey  to  the  rendezvous 
had,  of  course,  to  be  effected  under  sail,  the  coal  bunkers  having 
to  be  closely  guarded  lest,  if  in  coming  to  paying  out  the  cable 
again,  steam  should  run  short — thereby  endangering  the  success 
of  the  whole  enterprise. 

For  the  fifth  time,  therefore,  the  Agamemnon's  head  went 
about,  and  after  twenty  days  at  sea  she  was  once  more  beating 
up  against  the  wind.  The  following  day  the  wind  was  blowing 
strongly  from  the  south-west,  with  mist  and  rain,  and  Thursday, 

1  This  was  from  the  last  turn  in  the  coil,  and  subsequently  it  was 
discovered  that,  owing  to  the  disturbance  in  the  flooring  of  the  tank 
during  the  storm,  the  cable  had  been  damaged  here. 


the  ist  of  July,  gave  every  one  the  most  unfavourable  opinion  of 
July  weather  in  the  Atlantic.  The  wind  and  sea  were  both  high — 
the  wet  fog  so  dense  that  one  could  scarcely  see  a  mast's  head, 
while  the  damp  cold  was  really  biting.  Altogether  it  was  an 
atmosphere  of  which  a  Londoner  would  have  been  ashamed 
even  in  November.  Later  in  the  day  a  heavy  sea  got  up  ;  the 
wind  increased  without  dissipating  the  fog,  and  it  was  double- 
reefed  topsails,  and  pitching  and  rolling  as  before.  However, 
the  upper  deck  coil  of  250  tons  being  gone,  the  Agamemnon  was 
as  buoyant  as  a  lifeboat,  and  no  one  cared  how  much  she  took 
to  kicking  about,  though  the  cold  wet  log  was  a  miserable  nuisance, 
penetrating  everywhere,  and  making  the  ship  as  wet  inside  as 
out.  What  made  matters  worse  was  that  in  such  weather  there 
seemed  no  chance  of  meeting  the  Niagara — unless  she  ran  into  us, 
when  cable-laying  would  have  gone  on  wholesale  !  In  order 
to  avoid  such  a  contretemps,  and  also  to  inform  the  Valorous  of 
our  whereabouts,  guns  were  fired,  fog  bells  rung,  and  the  bugler 
stationed  forward,  to  warn  the  other  vessels  of  our  vicinity. 
Friday  was  the  ditto  of  Thursday,  and  Saturday  worse  than 
both  together  ;  for  it  almost  blew  a  gale,  and  there  was  a  very 
heavy  sea  on.  On  Sunday,  the  4th,  it  cleared  ;  and  the  Agamem- 
non, for  the  first  time  during  the  whole  cruise,  reached  the  actual 
rendezvous,  and  fell  in  with  the  Valorous,  which  had  been  there 
since  Friday,  the  2nd.  But  the  fog  must  have  been  even  thicker 
there  than  elsewhere,  for  she  had  scarcely  seen  herself— much 
less  anything  else — till  Sunday. 

During  the  remainder  of  that  day  arid  Monday,  when  the 
weather  was  very  clear,  both  ships  cruised  over  the  place  of 
meeting,  but  neither  the  Niagara  nor  Gorgon  was  there,  though 
day  and  night  the  look-out  for  them  was  constant  and  incessant. 
It  was  evident,  then,  that  the  Niagara  had  rigidly— but  most 
unfortunately — adhered  to  the  mere  letter  of  the  agreement 
regarding  the  100  miles,  and  after  the  last  fracture  had  at  once 
turned  back  for  Queenstown.  On  Tuesday,  the  6th,  therefore, 
as  the  dense  fogs  and  winds  set  in  again,  it  was  agreed  between 
the  Valorous  and  Agamemnon  to  return  once  more  to  the  rendez- 


vous.  But,  as  usual,  the  fog  was  so  thick  that  the  whole  American 
navy  might  have  been  cruising  there  unobserved.  The  search 
was,  therefore,  given  up;  and  at  eight  o'clock  that  night  the 
ship's  head  was  turned  for  Cork.  The  voyage  home  was  made 
with  ease  and  swiftness — considering  the  lightness  of  the  wind 
and  the  trim  of  the  ship  ;  and  at  midday  on  Tuesday,  July  iath, 
the  good  ship  cast  anchor  in  Queenstown  harbour,  having  met 
with  more  dangerous  weather  and  encountered  more  mishaps 
than  often  falls  to  the  lot  of  any  ship  in  a  cruise  of  thirty-three 

Thus  ended  the  most  arduous  and  dangerous  expedition 
that  has  ever  been  experienced  in  connection  with  cable- 
work.  It,  at  any  rate,  had  the  advantage  of  supplying  the 
public  with  some  exciting  reading  in  the  columns  of  The 
Times,  and  Mr.  Woods'  graphic  descriptions  were  much 
appreciated — even  by  other  eye-witnesses. 

As  regards  Charles  Bright's  diary  during  this  period— 
with  the  constant  strain  of  responsibility  on  his  shoulders — 
it  had  necessarily  consisted,  in  the  main,  of  rough  pencil 
notices  referring  to  details  such  as  miles  run,  cable  paid 
out,  strain  on  dynamometer,  percentage  of  slack,  etc.  The 
subject  of  our  biography  used  to  say  that,  arduous  as  it  was, 
the  life  on  board  resembled  a  good  ball—  "  the  excitement 
keeping  one  going."  For  purposes  of  accuracy  it  is  to  be 
regretted,  of  course,  that  those  holding  responsible  positions 
seldom  have  time  to  write  a  record  of  the  events,  or  even 
to  .attend  to  representatives  of  the  press.  If  it  were  other- 
wise, there  would  be  fewer  false  statements,  which  are  passed 
on  to  posterity  very  often  for  want  of  being  contradicted  by 
the  few  who  know  better  but  have  other  matters  to  see  to. 
In  this  particular  instance,  however,  not  only  did  Mr.  Woods 


tell  his  story  of  the  Atlantic  cable-laying  in  a  most  palatable 
form — far  more  so  than  would  be  possible  by  any  of  the 
officials  engaged  in  the  work — but  his  account  was  notably 

The  Niagara  had  reached  Queenstown  as  far  back  as 
July  5th.  Those  in  charge  having  found  they  had  run 
out  a  hundred  and  nine  miles  when  "  continuity  "  ceased, 
considered  that,  in  order  to  carry  out  their  instruc- 
tions, they  should  return  at  once  to  the  above  port— 
which  they  did.  Before  bearing  homewards,  however,  and 
whilst  the  line  was  still  hanging  on  to  the  ship's  stern,  op- 
portunity was  taken  to  make  what  proved  to  be  an  eminently 
satisfactory  test  in  regard  to  the  strength  of  the  cable. 
After  all  hope  of  the  continuity  being  restored  was  aban- 
doned, the  brakes  were  shut  down  so  that  the  paying-out 
machine  could  not  move.  In  this  way  the  process  of  pay- 
ing-out was  stopped  for  about  an  hour  and  a  half,  during 
which  the  whole  weight  of  the  Niagara  was  literally  held 
by  the  slender  cord,  the  wind  blowing  fresh  all  the  time. 
And  yet  the  cable  did  not  break  until  the  pressure  put  upon 
the  brakes  had  reached  an  equivalent  of  over  four  tons 
strain  ! 

On  the  two  ships  meeting  at  Queenstown,  discussion 
immediately  took  place  (i)  as  to  the  cessation  of  con- 
tinuity, and  (2)  regarding  the  plan  adopted  by  the  Niagara 
in  returning  home  so  promptly.  The  non-arrival  of  the 
Agamemnon  till  nearly  a  week  later  had  been  the  cause 
of  much  alarm  as  regards  her  safety. 



Finis  coronal  opus 

The  sad  tale  of  disaster  commenced  to  spread  abroad 
immediately  on  the  Niagara  s  arrival  in  Queenstown  ;  and 
when  Mr.  Field  hastened  to  London  to  meet  the  other 
directors  of  the  Company,  he  found  that  the  news  had  not 
only  preceded  him  but  had  already  had  its  effect.  The 
Board  was  soon  called  together.  It  met  in  the  same  room 
in  which,  six  weeks  earlier,  it  had  discussed  the  prospects 
of  the  expedition  with  full  confidence  of  success.  Now  it 
met  as  a  council  of  war  summoned  after  a  terrible  defeat,  to 
decide  whether  to  surrender  or  to  try  once  more  the  chances 
of  battle. 

As  described  by  Mr.  Henry  Field  : 

"  Most  of  the  directors  looked  blankly  in  one  another's  faces." 
With  some  the  feeling  was  one  akin  to  despair.  It  was  thought 
by  many  that  there  was  nothing  left  on  which  to  found  an 
expectation  of  future  success,  or  to  encourage  the  expenditure 
of  further  capital  upon  an  adventure  so  "  completely  visionary." 
Sir  William  Brown  (the  first  chairman),  whilst  recommending 
complete  abandonment  of  the  undertaking,  suggested  "  a  sale  of 
the  cable  remaining  on  board  the  ships,  and  a  distribution  of  the 
proceeds  amongst  the  shareholders." 

Mr.  Brooking,  the  vice-chairman,  also  now  convinced  of  the 
impracticability  of  the  undertaking,  sent  in  his  resignation. 

Bolder  counsels,  however,  were  destined  to  prevail. 
There  were  those  who  thought  there  was  still  a  chance- 
like  Robert  Bruce,  who,  after  twelve  battles  and  twelve 
defeats,  yet  believed  that  a  thirteenth  might  bring  victory. 
Besides  the  projectors— J.  W.  Brett,  Charles  Bright  and 


Cyrus  Field — Mr.  Curtis  Lampson  (who  succeeded  Mr. 
Brooking  as  deputy-chairman)  made  a  firm  stand  for  action 
at  once,  as  did  also  Professor  Thomson  1  and  Mr.  White- 
house.  These  advocates  of  non-surrender  at  length  suc- 
ceeded in  carrying  an  order  for  the  immediate  sailing  of  the 
expedition  for  a  final  effort.  It  was  this  effort  which  proved 
to  the  world  the  possibility  of  telegraphing  from  one  hemi- 
sphere to  the  other. 

The  order  to  advance  having  been  given,  the  ships  imme- 
diately took  in  coal  and  other  necessaries. 

During  this  interval,  and  whilst  in  London,  Charles  Bright 
availed  himself  of  the  opportunity  to  run  down  to  his  coun- 
try home  near  Harrow  for  a  single  day  and  night,  thus 
catching  a  glimpse  of  those  dearest  to  him.  On  leaving, 
he  remarked  to  his  young  wife,  "  I  don't  say  we  shall  do  it 
even  this  time,  but  we  shall  do  it  some  time."  This  was 
very  characteristic  of  the  man.  It  will  probably  be  ad- 
mitted that  the  failing  with  many  is  that  though  they  set 
their  teeth  at  a  thing,  they  do  not  do  so  for  long  enough. 
That  could  scarcely  be  said  of  young  Bright. 

When  everything  and  everybody  had  been  shipped,  the 
squadron  left  Queenstown  once  more  on  Saturday,  July  i7th. 
As  the  ships  sailed  out  of  the  harbour  of  Cork,  it  was  with 
none  of  the  enthusiasm  which  attended  their  departure  from 
Valentia  the  year  before,  or  even  the  small  amount  excited 

1  Whilst  the  ships  were  lying  at  Queenstown,  Professor  Thomson 
had  transmitted  signals  through  the  entire  length  of  cable  on  the 
two  ships,  thereby  again  demonstrating  the  electrical  practicability 
of  the  line. 


when  leaving  Plymouth  on  June  icth.  Nobody  so  much  as 
cheered.  In  fact,  their  mission  was  by  this  time  spoken  of 
as  a  "  mad  freak  "  of  "  stubborn  ignorance  "  ! 

The  squadron  was  the  same  as  on  the  last  occasion.  It 
was  agreed  that  the  ships  should  not  attempt  to  keep  to- 
gether this  time,  but  that  each  should  make  its  way  to  the 
given  latitude  and  longitude.  The  staff  were  composed 
and  berthed  as  before,  Mr.  Field  once  more  taking  up  his 
quarters  aboard  the  Niagara.  Moreover,  the  expedition 
was  again  accompanied  by  the  same  literary  talent  ;  and 
we  cannot  do  better  now  than  give  the  story  as  it  is  con- 
tinued by  Mr.  Nicholas  Woods  on  behalf  of  The  Times,1  so  far 
as  the  Agamemnon  (containing  Charles  Bright)  is  concerned  — 

As  your  readers  have  already  been  informed  by  telegraph, 
the  submarine  communication  between  the  Old  and  New  Worlds 
is  now  an  accomplished  fact.  In  the  face  of  difficulties  and 
dangers,  the  engineers  engaged  in  this  undertaking  have,  with 
almost  untiring  energy,  adhered  to  their  task  with  that  perse- 
verance which  is  sure,  sooner  or  later,  to  lead  to  success.  There 
were  but  few  some  twenty  days  ago  who,  after  the  unsuccessful 
return  of  the  squadron  to  Queenstown,  would  have  dared  to 
predict  such  a  speedy  and  glorious  termination  to  all  the  trials 
and  difficulties  that  the  promoters  of  this  enterprise  have  under- 
gone. The  final  accomplishment  of  the  scheme  seemed  indeed 
up  to  the  last  moment  to  hang  upon  a  hair.  Many  serious  diffi- 
culties had  to  be  encountered  during  the  six  days  and  a  half 
that  the  operations  lasted.  Any  one  of  these  might  have  ruined 
the  expedition  and  delayed  the  advance  of  ocean  telegraphs 
perhaps  more  than  half  a  century.  But  the  difficult  task  has 
now  been  accomplished  ;  and  it  only  remains  for  us  to  accept 

1  The  Times,  Wednesday,  August  nth,   1858. 


the  benefits  which  it  will  undoubtedly  confer  upon  the  com- 
munity. Wonderful  as  the  conception  of  conveying  sensations 
across  the  almost  unknown  depths  of  the  ocean  may  seem  to 
us  now,  yet  in  a  very  little  time  people  will  forget  the  marvel 
while  profiting  by  the  fact ;  and,  without  remembering  the 
years  of  anxious  toil  and  discouragement  which  those  who  have 
secured  this  boon  to  the  community  have  undergone  to  secure 
success,  the  wonder  will  be,  not  that  the  undertaking  has  been 
carried  out  at  all,  but  that  it  had  not  been  accomplished  long 
before.  It  has  been  the  custom  of  mankind  to  honour  the  lives 
and  celebrate  the  deeds  of  great  statesmen,  successful  warriors, 
and  eminent  divines.  Indeed,  of  such  materials  are  the  links 
in  the  chain  of  history  chiefly  composed.  But  those  men  who, 
by  patient  thought  and  persevering  ;action,  have  achieved  vic- 
tories over  matter — which  secure  to  the  community  permanent 
advantages — very  often  have  their  trouble  for  their  reward.  It 
is  to  be  hoped  that  this  may  not  be  the  case  with  those  who 
have  been  mainly  instrumental  in  bringing  this  great  work  to 
a  successful  termination.  It  must  be  confessed  that  the  pros- 
pects of  success  were  very  remote  when  the  squadron  left  Queens- 
town  on  the  iyth  of  last  month.  The  amount  of  cable  in  the 
two  ships  had  been  reduced  by  nearly  400  miles  ;  and  the  re- 
collection of  three  separate  and  most  unaccountable  breakages 
was  still  fresh  in  the  minds  of  all  who  had  accompanied  the 
first  expedition.  There  was  no  assurance  whatever  that  the 
very  same  thing  would  not  occur  again.  The  cable  might,  and 
evidently  did,  as  far  as  the  contractors  are  concerned,  fulfil  all 
the  guaranteed  requirements ;  and  the  numerous  accidents 
which  occurred  might  be  due  to  the  cable  having  become  injured 
during  the  gale.  This  supposition,  though  it  may  be  gratifying 
to  Messrs.  Glass,  Elliot  &  Co.,  and  to  Messrs.  Newall  &  Co.,  was 
no  consolation  to  either  the  engineers  or  the  shareholders.  Under 
these  circumstances,  it  is  not  surprising  that  many  regarded 
the  prosecution  of  the  scheme  as  a  waste  of  the  shareholders' 
money.  However,  in  spite  of  the  most  vehement  opposition, 
the  majority  of  the  directors  determined  to  despatch  the  expe- 


dition  to  try  their  fortune  once  again  in  mid-ocean  before  they 
finally  abandoned  the  project  as  impracticable.  Accordingly,  on 
the  morning  of  Saturday,  theiyth  of  July  the  Valorous,  Gorgon, 
and  Niagara,  having  completed  coaling,  steamed  away  from 
Queenstown  for  the  rendezvous.  The  Agamemnon,  having  to  wait 
for  Professor  W.  Thomson,  one  of  the  directors,  who  took  charge 
of  the  electrical  department  on  board,1  did  not  weigh  anchor 
till  two  o'clock  on  the  following  morning.  As  the  ships  left  the 
harbour  there  was  apparently  no  notice  taken  of  their  departure 
by  those  on  shore  or  in  the  vessels  anchored  around  them. 
Every  one  appeared  impressed  with  the  conviction  that  we 
were  engaged  in  a  hopeless  enterprise  ;  and  the  squadron  seemed 
rather  to  have  slunk  away  on  some  discreditable  mission  than  to 
have  sailed  for  the  accomplishment  of  a  grand  national  scheme. 

It  was  just  dawn  when  the  Agamemnon  got  clear  of  Queens- 
town  Harbour.  Of  the  voyage  out  there  is  little  to  be  said:  It 
is  not  checkered  by  the  excitement  of  continual  storms  or  the 
tedium  of  perpetual  calms,  but  we  had  a  sufficient  admixture  of 
both  to  render  our  passage  to  the  rendezvous  a  very  ordinary  and 
uninteresting  one.  With  very  little  breeze,  or  wind,  the  screw 
was  got  up  and  sails  set,  so  as  to  husband  our  coals  as  much  as 
possible  ;  but  it  soon  fell  calm,  and  obliged  Captain  Preedy  to 
again  get  up  steam.  In  consequence  of  continued  delays  and 
changes  from  steam  to  sail,  and  from  sail  to  steam,  much  fuel 
was  expended,  and  not  more  than  eighty  miles  of  distance  made 
good  each  day.  On  Sunday,  the  25th,  however,  the  weather 
changed,  and  for  several  days  in  succession  there  was  an  un- 
interrupted calm.  The  moon  was  just  at  the  full ;  and  for  the 
next  few  nights  it  shone  with  a  brilliancy  which  turned  the 
smooth  sea  into  one  silvery  sheet,  which  brought  out  the  dark 
hull  and  white  sails  of  the  ship  in  strong  contrast  to  the  sea  and 
sky  as  the  vessel  lay  all  but  motionless  on  the  water — the  very 

L  The  gentleman  holding  the  position  of  electrician  to  the  Com- 
pany—Mr. Whitehouse— was  still,  under  medical  advice,  prevented 
from  accompanying  the  expedition. 


impersonation  of  solitude  and  repose.  Indeed,  until  the  rendez- 
vous  was  gained,  we  had  such  a  succession  of  beautiful  sunrises, 
gorgeous  sunsets,  and  tranquil  moonlight  nights  as  would  have 
excited  the  most  enthusiastic  admiration  of  any  but  persons 
situated  as  we  were.  But  by  us  scenes  of  this  sort  were  re- 
garded only  as  the  annoying  indications  of  the  calm  which 
delayed  our  progress  and  wasted  our  coals.  To  say  that  it  was 
calm  is  not  doing  full  justice  to  it — there  was  not  a  breath  in 
the  air,  and  the  water  was  as  smooth  as  a  mill-pond.  Even 
the  wake  of  the  ship  scarce  ruffled  its  surface  ;  and  the  gulls — 
which  had  visited  us  almost  daily,  and  to  which  our  benevolent 
liberality  had  dispensed  innumerable  helpings  of  pork — threw 
an  almost  unbroken  shadow  upon  it  as  they  stooped  in  their 
flight  to  pick  up  the  largest  and  most  tempting.  It  was  generally 
remarked  that  cable-laying  under  such  circumstances  would  be 
mere  child's  play.  In  spite  of  the  unusual  calmness  of  the 
weather  in  general,  there  were  days  on  which  our  former  un- 
pleasant experiences  of  the  Atlantic  were  brought  forcibly  to 
mind — when  it  blew  hard,  and  the  sea  ran  sufficiently  high  to 
reproduce  on  a  minor  scale  some  of  the  discomforts  of  which 
the  previous  cruise  had  been  so  fruitful.  These  days,  however, 
were  the  exception  and  not  the  rule.  They  served  to  show  how 
much  more  pleasant  was  the  inconvenient  calm  than  the  weather 
which  had  previously  prevailed. 

The  precise  point  of  the  rendezvous — marked  by  a  dot  on  the 
chart — was  reached  on  the  evening  of  Wednesday,  the  28th  July, 
just  eleven  days  after  our  departure  from  Queenstown.  The 
voyage  out  was  a  lazy  one.  Now  things  are  different,  and  we 
no  longer  hear  of  the  prospects  of  the  heroes  and  heroines  of 
the  romances  and  novels  which  have  formed  the  staple  food  for 
animated  discussion  for  some  days  past.  The  rest  of  the  squad- 
ron were  in  sight  at  nightfall,  but  at  such  a  considerable  distance 
that  it  was  past  ten  o'clock  on  the  morning  of  Thursday,  the 
2gth,  before  the  Agamemnon  joined  them.  Some  time  previous 
to  reaching  the  rendezvous  the  engineer-in-chief  (Mr.  Bright) 
went  up  in  the  shrouds  on  the  look-out  for  the  other  ships,  and 


accordingly  had  to  "  pay  his  footing  " — much  to  the  amusement 
of  his  staff.  Most  of  them  being  more  advanced  in  years  would 
probably  have  been  less  equal  to  the  task  in  an  athletic  sense. 

After  the  ordinary  laconic  conversation  which  characterises 
code  flag  signals  x  we  were  as  usual  greeted  by  a  perfect  storm 
of  questions  as  to  what  kept  us  so  much  behind  our  time,  and 
learned  that  all  had  come  to  the  conclusion  that  the  ship  must 
have  got  on  shore  on  leaving  Queenstown  Harbour.  The  Niagara, 
it  appeared,  had  arrived  at  the  rendezvous  on  Friday  night,  the 
23rd,  the  Valorous  on  Sunday  the  25th,  and  the  Gorgon  on  the 
afternoon  of  Tuesday,  the  27th. 

The  day  was  beautifully  calm,  so  no  time  was  to  be  lost  be- 
fore making  the  splice  in  lat.  52°9/N.,  long.  32^7' W.,  and 
soundings  of  1,500  fathoms.  Boats  were  soon  lowered  from 
the  attendant  ships,  the  two  vessels  made  fast  by  a  hawser,  and 
the  Niagara's  end  of  the  cable  conveyed  on  board  the  Agamemnon. 
About  half -past  twelve  o'clock  the  splice  was  effectually  made, 
but  with  a  very  different  frame  from  the  carefully  rounded  semi- 
circular boards  which  had  been  used  to  enclose  the  junctions 
on  previous  occasions.  It  consisted  merely  of  two  straight 
boards  hauled  over  the  joint  and  splice,  with  the  iron  rod  and 
leaden  plummet  attached  to  the  centre.  In  hoisting  it  out 
from  the  side  of  the  ship,  however,  the  leaden  sinker  broke  short 
off  and  fell  overboard.  There  being  no  more  convenient  weight 
at  hand,  a  32  Ib.  shot  was  fastened  to  the  splice  instead  ;  and 
the  whole  apparatus  was  quickly  dropped  into  the  sea  without 
any  formality — and,  indeed,  almost  without  a  spectator — for 
those  on  board  the  ship  had  witnessed  so  many  beginnings  to 
the  telegraphic  line  that  it  was  evident  they  despaired  of  there 
ever  being  an  end  to  it. 

1  Such  as,  "I  hope  you  are  all  well."  "  Very  well,  I  thank 
you."  A  touch  of  irony  characterised  one,  however,  when  the 
Gorgon  asked  the  Niagara  if  she  had  any  coal  to  spare,  the  reply — 
this  time  by  word  of  mouth — came,  "  None  at  all.  I  think  the 
Agamemnon  could  give  you  some,  as  she  can't  have  burned  much 
since  she  left !  " 


The  stipulated  210  fathoms  of  cable  having  been  paid  out 
to  allow  the  splice  to  sink  well  below  the  surface,  the  signal  to 
start  was  hoisted,  the  hawser  cast  loose,  and  the  Niagara  and 
Agamemnon  start  for  the  last  time  at  about  I  p.m.  for  their 
opposite  destinations.  The  announcement  comes  from  the 
electrician's  testing-room  that  the  continuity  is  perfect,  and 
with  this  assurance  the  engineers  go  on  more  boldly  with  the 
work.  In  point  of  fact  the  engineers  may  be  said  to  be  very 
much  under  the  control  of  the  electricians  during  paying  out ; 
for  if  they  report  anything  wrong  with  the  cable,  the  engineers 
are  brought  to  a  stand  until  they  are  allowed  to  go  on  with 
their  operations  by  the  announcement  of  the  electricians  that 
the  insulation  is  perfect  and  the  continuity  all  right.  The 
testing-room  is  where  the  subtle  current  which  flows  along  the 
conductor  is  generated,  and  where  the  mysterious  apparatus — 
by  which  electricity  is  weighed  and  measured  as  a  marketable 
commodity — is  fitted  up.  The  system  of  testing  and  trans- 
mitting and  receiving  signals  through  the  cable  from  ship  to 
ship  during  the  process  of  paying  out  must  now  be  briefly  re- 
ferred to.  It  consists  of  an  exchange  of  currents  sent  alternately 
every  ten  minutes  by  each  ship.  These  not  only  serve  to  give 
an  accurate  test  of  the  continuity  and  insulation  of  the  con- 
ducting wire  from  end  to  end,  but  also  to  give  certain  signals 
which  it  is  desirable  to  send  for  information  purposes.  For 
instance,  every  ten  miles  of  cable  paid  out  is  signalised  from 
ship  to  ship,  as  also  the  approach  to  land  or  momentary  stoppage 
for  splicing,  shifting  to  a  fresh  coil,  etc.  The  current  in  its 
passage  is  made  to  pass  through  an  electro-magnetometer,  an 
instrument  used  by  Mr.  Whitehouse.  It  is  also  conveyed  in 
its  passage  at  each  end  of  the  cable  through  the  reflecting  gal- 
vanometer and  speaking  instrument  just  invented  by  Prof. 
Thomson  ;  and  it  is  this  latter  which  is  so  invaluable,  not  only 
for  the  interchange  of  signals,  but  also  for  testing  purposes. 
The  deflections  read  on  the  galvanometer,  as  also  the  degree 
of  charge  and  discharge  indicated  by  the  magnetometer,  are 
carefully  recorded.  Thus,  if  a  defect  of  continuity  or  insulation 


occurs,  it  is  brought  to  light  by  comparison  with  those  received 

For  the  first  three  hours  the  ships  proceeded  very  slowly, 
paying  out  a  great  quantity  of  slack  ;  but  after  the  expiration 
of  this  time  the  speed  of  the  Agamemnon  was  increased  to  about 
five  knots,  the  cable  going  at  about  six,  without  indicating 
more  than  a  few  hundred  pounds  of  strain  upon  the  dynamo- 
meter. Shortly  after  four  o'clock  a  large  whale  was  seen  ap- 
proaching the  starboard  bow  at  a  great  speed,  rolling  and  tossing 
the  sea  into  foam  all  round  ;  and  for  the  first  time  we  felt  a 
possibility  for  the  supposition  that  our  second  mysterious  break- 
age of  the  cable  might  have  been  caused  after  all  by  one  of  these 
animals  getting  foul  of  it  under  water.  It  appeared  as  if  it 
were  making  direct  for  the  cable  ;  and  great  was  the  relief  of 
all  when  the  ponderous  living  mass  was  seen  slowly  to  pass 
astern,  just  grazing  the  cable  where  it  entered  the  water — but 
fortunately  without  doing  any  mischief. 

All  seemed  to  go  well  up  to  about  eight  o'clock  ;  the  cable 
paid  out  from  the  hold  with  an  evenness  and  regularity  which 
showed  how  carefully  and  perfectly  it  had  been  coiled  away. 
The  paying-out  machine  also  worked  so  smoothly  that  it  left 
nothing  to  be  desired.  Thus  far  everything  looked  promising. 
But  in  such  a  hazardous  work  no  one  knows  what  a  few  minutes 
may  bring  forth,  and  soon  after  eight  o'clock  a  damaged  piece 
of  the  cable  was  discovered  about  a  mile  or  two  from  the  portion 
paying  out.  Not  a  moment  was  lost  by  Mr.  Canning,  the  en- 
gineer on  duty,  in  setting  men  to  work  to  cobble  up  the  injury  as 
well  as  time  would  permit ;  for  the  cable  was  going  out  at  such 
a  pace  that  the  damaged  portion  would  be  paid  overboard  in 
less  than  twenty  minutes,  and  former  experience  had  shown  us 
that  to  check  either  the  speed  of  the  ship  or  the  cable  would, 
in  all  probability,  be  attended  by  fatal  results.  Just  before 
the  lapping  was  finished  Professor  Thomson  reported  that  the 
electrical  continuity  of  the  wire  had  ceased,  but  that  the  insu- 
lation was  still  perfect.  Attention  was  naturally  directed  to 
the  injured  piece  as  the  probable  source  of  the  stoppage,  and 

-    THE  ATLANTIC   CABLE  125 

not  a  moment  was  lost  in  cutting  the  cable  at  that  point,  with 
the  intention  of  making  a  perfect  splice.1  To  the  consternation 
of  all,  the  electrical  tests  applied  showed  the  fault  to  be  over- 
board, and  in  all  probability  some  fifty  miles  from  the  ship. 
Not  a  second  was  to  be  lost,  for  it  was  evident  that  the  cut 
portion  must  be  paid  overboard  in  a  few  minutes  ;  and  in  the 
meantime  the  tedious  and  difficult  operation  of  making  a  splice 
had  to  be  performed.  The  ship  was  immediately  stopped,  and 
no  more  cable  paid  out  than  was  absolutely  necessary  to  prevent 
it  breaking.  As  the  stern  of  the  ship  was  lifted  by  the  waves 
a  scene  of  most  intense  excitement  followed.  It  seemed  im- 
possible that  the  junction  could  be  finished  before  the  part  was 
taken  out  of  the  hands  of  the  workmen.  The  main  hold  pre- 
sented an  extraordinary  scene.  Every  one  stood  in  groups 

1  In  connection  with  the  above,  an  extract  from  Bright's  diary 
will  serve  to  fill  up  some  gaps: — 

"  29th  July,  Greenwich  time,  10  p.m.  Signals  ceased  from  Niagara. 
Professor  Thomson  reported  loss  of  continuity,  with  insulation 
good.  To  ascertain  whether  fault  was  at  the  piece  of  cable  which 
was  about  to  be  lapped,  the  cable  was  sprung  open  at  this  point 
and  the  gutta-percha  wire  pricked,  and  the  part  in  the  ship  found 
good  ;  pricked  again  nearer  stern,  found  good  inside  ship. 

"  No  indication  of  fracture  during  the  time.  It  was  then  cut 
about  ten  turns  from  the  outgoing  part,  and  the  test  showed  the 
loss  of  continuity  to  be  far  from  the  ship— probably  more  than  forty 
miles,  but  decidedly  less  than  200. 

"  Joint  made  again  as  quickly  as  possible,  and  tested.  Want 
of  continuity  and  good  insulation  still  experienced.  When  one  turn 
off  joint,  commenced  veering  out  again.  Ship's  time,  9-5  P-m- 
Splice  paid  over  safely.  Same  results.  Strong  current  came.  On 
testing,  '  earth  '  found  about  middle  of  cable,  and  on  currents 
again  coming  it  was  concluded  that  the  cable  had  been  cut  on  board 

the  Niagara. 

"  Signals  then  sent  and  received  regularly,  and  showed  1,200  or 

1,300  miles  in  circuit. 

«  Note.—  This  trouble  might  have  been  avoided    had    complel 
speaking  arrangements  been  made." 


about  the  coil,  watching  with  great  anxiety  the  cable  as  it  slowly 
unwound  itself  nearer  and  nearer  the  joint,  while  the  workmen 
worked  at  the  splice  as  only  men  could  work  who  felt  that  the 
life  and  death  of  the  expedition  depended  upon  their  rapidity. 
But  all  their  speed  was  to  no  purpose,  as  the  cable  was  unwinding 
within  a  hundred  fathoms.  As  a  last  and  desperate  resource 
the  cable  was  stopped  altogether,  and  for  a  few  minutes  the 
ship  hung  on  by  the  end.  Fortunately,  however,  it  was  only 
for  a  few  minutes,  as  the  strain  was  continually  rising  above 
two  tons,  and  it  would  not  hold  on  much  longer.  When  the 
splice  was  finished  the  signal  was  made  to  loose  the  stoppers, 
and  happily  it  passed  overboard  in  safety. 

When  the  excitement,  consequent  upon  having  so  narrowly 
saved  the  cable,  had  passed  away,  we  awoke  to  the  consciousness 
that  the  case  was  yet  as  hopeless  as  ever,  for  the  electrical  con- 
tinuity was  still  entirely  wanting  !  Preparations  were  con- 
sequently made  to  pay  out  as  little  rope  as  possible,  and  to 
hold  on  for  six  hours  in  the  hope  that  the  fault — whatever  it 
should  prove  to  be — might  mend  itself  before  cutting  the  cable 
and  returning  to  the  rendezvous  to  make  another  splice.  The 
magnetic  needles  on  the  receiving  instruments  were  watched 
closely  for  the  returning  signals  ;  when,  in  a  few  minutes,  the 
last  hope  'was  extinguished  by  their  suddenly  indicating  dead 
earth,  which  tended  to  show  that  the  cable  had  broken  from  the 
Niagara,  or  that  the  insulation  had  been  completely  destroyed. 
Nothing,  however,  could  be  done.  The  only  course  was  to 
wait  until  the  current  should  return  or  take  its  final  departure. 
It  actually  did  return — with  greater  strength  than  ever  ;  and 
in  three  minutes  every  one  was  agreeably  surprised  by  the 
intelligence  that  the  signals  had  again  appeared  at  their 
regular  intervals  from  the  Niagara.'1  It  is  needless  to  say 

1  Later  on  it  was  made  clear  that  this  mysterious  temporary 
want  of  continuity — accompanied  by  an  apparent  variation  in  the 
insulation — was  due  to  a  defect  in  the  more  or  less  inconstant  sand 
battery  used  aboard  the  latter  vessel. 



what  a  load  of  anxiety  this  news  removed  from  the  minds  of 
every  one  ;  but  the  general  confidence  in  the  ultimate  success 
of  the  operations  was  much  shaken  by  the  occurrence, 
for  all  felt  that  every  minute  a  similar  accident  might 

again  occur.1 

For  some  time  the  paying-out  continued  as  usual,  but  towards 
the  morning  another  damaged  place  was  discovered  in  the  cable. 

1  This  unpleasant  incident  regarding  the  continuity  was  never 
forgotten  to  the  last,  and  forbade  all  to  indulge  in  sanguine  expec- 
tations, even  when  prospects  seemed  perfect.  One  of  those  repre- 
senting the  Press  wrote  :  "  The  sailors,  who  are  somewhat  in  the 
dark  as  to  the  scientific  definition  of  the  term  '  continuity,'  believe 
it  to  be  at  the  bottom  of  all  the  trouble,  and  credit  it  even  with 
vindictive  qualities.  '  Darn  the  continuity,'  said  an  old  '  salt,' 
after  what  was  to  him  a  highly  scientific — but,  to  his  audience  of 
messmates,  a  rather  foggy — dissertation  on  the  subject  of  cable- 
work.  '  Darn  the  continuity  ;  I  wish  they  would  get  rid  of  it  alto- 
gether. It  has  caused  a  jolly  sight  more  trouble  than  the  business 
is  worth.  I  say  they  ought  to  do  without  it,  and  let  it  go.  I 
believe  they'd  get  the  cable  down  if  they  didn't  pay  any  attention 
to  it  !  You  see,'  he  went  on,  '  I  was  on  the  last  exhibition  (expedi- 
tion he  meant,  but  it  was  all  the  same — his  messmates  did  not 
mistake  his  meaning)  and  I  thought  I'd  never  hear  the  end  of  it. 
They  were  always  talking  about  it ;  and  one  night  when  we  were 
out  last  year  it  was  gone  for  two  hours,  and  we  thought  that  was 
the  end  of  the  affair,  and  we  should  never  hear  of  it  again.  But  it 
came  back,  and  soon  after  the  cable  busted.  Now,  I  tell  you  what 
men,  I'll  never  forget  that  night,  I  tell  you.  We  all  felt  we  had  lost 
our  best  friend.  After  that  I  have  never  heard  the  word  "  con- 
tinuity," or  "  contiguity,"  or  whatever  it  is,  mentioned,  but  I  was 
always  afraid  something  was  going  to  happen.  And  that's  a  fact.' 
This  was  conclusive  on  the  minds  of  the  majority  of  his  hearers- 
However,  a  number  were  of  opinion  that  it  was  all  right,  and  at 
the  risk  of  being  considered  humbugs— asserted  their  belief  that 
whatever  might  be  said  against  the  continuity  they  couldn't  do 
without  it,  and  that,  on  the  contrary,  it  was  because  it  was  gone 
all  the  trouble  had  occurred." 


Yet,  fortunately,  there  was  time  to  repair  it  in  the  hold  without 
in  any  way  interfering  with  the  operations,  beyond  slightly 
reducing  the  speed  of  the  ship  for  a  few  moments.  Observa- 
tions made  at  noon  on  Friday  showed  that  we  had  made  good 
ninety  miles  from  the  starting-point  since  the  previous  day, 
with  an  expenditure  of  135  miles  of  cable.  During  the  latter 
portion  of  the  day  the  barometer  fell  considerably,  and  towards 
the  evening  it  blew  almost  a  gale  of  wind  from  the  eastward, 
dead  ahead  of  our  course.  As  the  breeze  freshened,  the  speed 
of  the  engines  was  gradually  increased  ;  but  the  wind  more 
than  increased  in  proportion,  so  that  before  the  sun  went  down 
the  Agamemnon  was  going  full  steam  against  the  wind,  only 
making  a  speed  of  some  four  knots. 

During  the  evening  top  masts  were  lowered,  and  spars,  yards, 
sails,  and,  indeed,  everything  aloft  that  could  offer  resistance 
to  the  wind  was  sent  down  on  deck.  Still  the  ship  made  but 
little  way,  chiefly  in  consequence  of  the  heavy  sea  ;  and  the 
enormous  quantity  of  fuel  consumed  showed  us  that  if  the  wind 
lasted  we  should  be  reduced  to  burning  the  masts,  spars,  and 
even  the  decks,  to  bring  the  ship  into  Valentia.  It  seemed  to 
be  our  particular  ill-fortune  to  meet  with  head  winds  which- 
ever way  the  ship's  head  was  turned.  On  our  journey  out  we 
had  been  delayed  and  obliged  to  consume  an  undue  proportion 
of  coal  for  want  of  an  easterly  wind,  and  now  all  our  fuel  was 
wanted  because  of  one.  However,  during  the  next  day  the 
wind  gradually  went  round  to  the  south-west,  which,  though 
it  raised  a  heavy  sea,  allowed  us  to  husband  our  small 
remaining  store  of  fuel. 

At  noon  on  Saturday,  the  315!  of  July,  observations  showed  us  to 
be  in  lat.  52°23/  N.,  and  long.  26°44'  W.,  having  made  good 
1 20  miles  of  distance  since  noon  of  the  previous  day,  with  a 
loss  of  about  27  per  cent,  of  cable.  The  Niagara,  as  far  as 
could  be  judged  from  the  amount  of  cable  she  paid  out — which 
was  signalled  at  every  ten  miles— kept  pace  with  us,  within  one 
or  two  miles,  the  whole  distance  across.  During  the  afternoon 
of  Saturday  the  wind  again  freshened.  Before  nightfall  it  blew 


nearly  a  gale  of  wind,  and  a  tremendous  sea  ran  before  it  from 
the  south-west,  which  made  the  Agamemnon  pitch  and  toss  to 
such  an  extent  that  it  was  thought  unlikely  the  cable  could 
hold  through  the  night.  Indeed,  had  it  not  been  for  the  constant 
care  and  watchfulness  exercised  by  Mr.  Bright  and  his  two 
energetic  assistants,  Mr.  Canning  and  Mr.  Clifford,  it  could  not 
have  been  done  at  all.  Men  were  kept  at  the  wheels  of  the 
machine  to  prevent  their  stopping  (as  the  stern  of  the  ship 
rose  and  fell  with  the  sea),  for  had  they  done  so  the  cable  must 
have  parted.1  During  Sunday  the  sea  and  wind  increased,  and 
before  the  evening  it  blew  a  smart  gale.  Now,  indeed,  were 
the  energy  and  activity  of  all  engaged  in  the  operation  tasked 
to  the  utmost.  Mr.  Hoar  and  Mr.  Moore,  the  two  engineers 
who  had  the  charge  of  the  relieving  wheels  of  the  dynamo- 
meter, had  to  keep  watch  and  watch  alternately  every  four 
hours,  and  while  on  duty  durst  not  let  their  attention  be  removed 
from  their  occupation  for  one  moment ;  for  on  their  releasing 
the  brake  every  time  the  stern  of  the  ship  fell  into  the  trough 
of  the  sea  entirely  depended  the  safety  of  the  cable,  and  the 
result  shows  how  ably  they  discharged  their  duty.  Throughout 
the  night  there  were  few  who  had  the  least  expectation  of  the 
cable  holding  on  till  morning,  and  many  lay  awake  listening  for 
the  sound  that  every  one  dreaded  to  hear — viz.,  the  gun  which 
should  announce  the  failure  of  all  our  hopes.  But  still  the 
cable — which,  in  comparison  with  the  ship  from  which  it  was 
paid  out  and  the  gigantic  waves  among  which  it  was  delivered, 

1  The  paying-out  apparatus  was  roped  in,  with  a  notice  placed 
conspicuously,  reading  thus  :  "  No  one  here  except  the  Engineers' 
Watch."  This  was  certainly  laconic  ;  but  if  any  other  than  the 
privileged  few  made  his  way  inside  the  sacred  ground,  the  marine 
who  stood  close  by  informed  him  he  must  leave.  That  was  not  all, 
however  ;  for  if  under  the  impression  that  he  was  at  liberty  to  talk 
to  the  operator  in  charge  of  the  dynamometer,  he  was  soon  made 
aware  of  the  absurdity  of  such  an  idea  by  another  inscription  to 
the  effect  that  no  conversation  was  allowed  with  that  particular 



was  but  a  mere  thread — continued  toehold  on,  only  leaving  a 
silvery  phosphorescent  line  upon  the  stupendous  seas  as  they 
rolled  on  towards  the  ship. 

With  Sunday  morning  came  no  improvement  in  the  weather. 
Still  the  sky  remained  black  and  stormy  to  windward,  and  the 
constant  violent  squalls  of  wind  and  rain  which  prevailed  during 
the  whole  day  served  to  keep  up — if  not  to  augment — the  height 
of  the  waves.  But  the  cable  had  gone  through  so  much  during 
the  night  that  our  confidence  in  its  continuing  to  hold  was  much 
restored.1  At  noon  observations  showed  us  to  be  in  lat. 
52°26'N.,  and  long.  23°i6/W.,  having  made  good  130  miles  from 
noon  of  the  previous  day,  and  about  350  from  our  starting-point 
in  mid-ocean.  We  had  passed  by  the  deepest  sounding  of  2,400 
fathoms,  and  over  more  than  half  of  the  deep  water  generally  ; 
while  the  length  of  cable  still  remaining  in  the  ship  was  more 
than  sufficient  to  carry  us  to  the  Irish  coast,  even  supposing 
the  continuance  of  the  bad  weather  should  oblige  us  to  pay  out 
nearly  the  same  amount  of  slack  cable  as  hitherto.  Thus  far 
things  looked  very  promising  for  our  ultimate  success.  But 
former  experience  showed  us  only  too  plainly  that  we  could 
never  suppose  that  some  accident  might  not  arise  until  the 
ends  had  been  fairly  landed  on  the  opposite  shores. 

One  of  the  expedition  made  some  notes  in  the  present- 
tense-story,  which  are  reproduced  here '  as  indicative 
of  the  feelings  indulged  in  about  this  time  by  those  on 
board  :— 

The  cable  is  the  absorbing  subject  of  conversation.  We 
hardly  dare  ask  ourselves  if  we  shall  lay  the  line  the  whole  dis- 
tance— it  seems  too  much  to  hope  for — and  we  dread  to  think 
of  the  future.  We  count  each  day,  not  by  hours,  but  by  minutes. 
The  sound  of  the  machinery  has  become  as  familiar  to  us  as 

1  A  note  in  Bright's  rough  diary  says  :  "  8  a.m.,  insulation  reported 
better  than  ever." 


that  of  our  own  voices  ;  and  when  it  is  drowned  in  any  other 
noise,  we  listen  with  eagerness  to  hear  it  again.  The  barometer 
is  consulted  hourly,  and  its  variations  watched  with  a  jealous 
eye,  for  we  can  now  appreciate  how  much  depends  on  the  weather. 
The  sight  of  that  thread-like  wire  battling  with  the  wind  and 
sea  produces  a  feeling  somewhat  akin  to  that  with  which  you 
would  watch  the  struggles  of  a  drowning  man  whom  you  have 
not  the  power  to  assist.  There  is  a  strong  undercurrent  of 
confidence,  though  we  are  still  some  way  from  the  end.  A  kink 
in  the  cable,  or  a  hole  running  through  the  gutta-percha  into 
the  conductor — a  tiny  hole,  such  as  you  could  not  force  a  hair 
through — would  render  the  labour  of  months  utterly  unavailing. 
That  group  of  sailors  near  the  cook's  galley  are  engaged  in  an 
animated  discussion  on  the  all-prevailing  topic.  One  of  the 
number  is  trying  to  persuade  his  messmates  that  it  is  impossible 
to  lay  it,  but  they  lend  him  rather  unwilling  ears.  Altogether 
the  cable  is  getting  into  better  repute,  and  specimens  of  it  are 
more  highly  prized  than  they  were  before.  Nothing  is  thought 
of  during  the  day  but  the  cable,  and  I  believe  two-thirds  of  the 
crew  don't  dream  of  anything  else.  Some  of  us  are  unreasonable 
enough  to  wish  that  things  were  still  better,  and  that  we  were 
once  more  at  home  and  amongst  our  friends — in  fact,  that  this 
terrible  struggle  between  hope  and  fear  were  at  an  end.  Then 
our  thoughts  turn  to  the  scene  of  wild  excitement  ashore  when 
it  is  learnt  that  the  "  impracticable  enterprise  "  has,  after  all, 
succeeded — that  is  to  say,  if  everything  continues  to  go  well 
to  the  finish. 

To  continue  in  the  words  of  The  Times  correspondent  :— 
During  Sunday  night  and  Monday  morning  the  weather 
remained  as  boisterous  as  ever.  It  was  only  by  the  most  in- 
defatigable exertions  of  the  engineer  upon  duty  that  the  wheels 
could  be  prevented  from  stopping  altogether  as  the  vessel  rose 
and  fell  with  the  sea  ;  and  once  or  twice  they  did  come  com- 
pletely to  a  standstill,  in  spite  of  all  that  could  be  done  to  keep 
them  moving.  Fortunately,  however,  they  were  again  set  in 


motion  before  the  stern  of  the  ship  was  thrown  up  by  the 
succeeding  wave. 

During  the  afternoon  of  the  latter  day  an  American  three- 
masted  schooner,  which  afterwards  proved  to  be  the  Chieftain, 
was  seen  standing  from  the  eastward  towards  us.  No  notice 
was  taken  of  her  at  first ;  but  when  she  was  within  about  half 
a  mile  of  the  Agamemnon  she  altered  her  course,  and  bore  right 
down  across  our  bows.  A  collision,  which  might  prove  fatal 
to  the  cable,  now  seemed  inevitable  ;  or  could  only  be  avoided 
by  the  equally  hazardous  expedient  of  altering  the  Agamemnon's 
course.  The  Valorous  steamed  ahead  and  fired  a  gun  for  her 
to  heave  to,  which,  as  she  did  not  appear  to  take  much  notice, 
was  quickly  followed  by  another  from  the  bows  of  the  Agamem- 
non, and  a  second  and  third  from  the  Valorous.  But  still  the 
vessel  held  on  her  course,  and  as  the  only  resource  left  to  avoid 
a  collision,  the  course  of  the  Agamemnon  was  altered  just  in 
time  to  pass  within  a  few  yards  of  her.  It  was  evident  that 
our  proceedings  were  a  source  of  the  greatest  possible  astonish- 
ment to  them,  for  all  her  crew  crowded  upon  her  deck  and 
rigging.  At  length  they  evidently  discovered  who  we  were 
and  what  we  were  doing,  for  the  crew  manned  the  rigging,  and 
dipping  the  ensign  several  times  they  gave  us  three  hearty 
cheers.  Though  the  Agamemnon  was  obliged  to  acknowledge 
these  congratulations  in  due  form,  the  feelings  of  annoyance 
with  which  we  regarded  the  vessel — which  was  so  near  adding 
a  fatal  and  unexpected  mishap  to  the  long  chapter  of  accidents 
which  had  already  been  encountered — may  easily  be  imagined. 
To  those  below — who  of  course  did  not  see  the  ship  approaching 
— the  sound  of  the  first  gun  came  like  a  thunderbolt,  for  all 
took  it  as  a  signal  of  the  breaking  of  the  cable.  The  dinner 
tables  were  deserted  in  a  moment,  and  a  general  rush  made  up 
the  hatches  to  the  deck  ;  but  before  reaching  it  their  fears  were 
quickly  banished  by  the  report  of  the  succeeding  gun,  which 
all  knew  well  could  only  be  caused  by  a  ship  in  our  way  or  a 
man  overboard. 

Throughout  the  greater  part  of  the  same  day  the  electrical 


signals  from  the  Niagara  had  been  getting  gradually  weaker, 
until  they  ceased  altogether  for  nearly  three-quarters  of  an 
hour.  Then  Professor  Thomson  sent  a  message  to  the  effect 
that  the  signals  were  too  weak  to  be  read,  and  in  a  little  while 
the  deflections  returned  even  stronger  than  they  had  ever  been 
before.  Towards  the  evening,  however,  they  again  declined 
in  force  for  a  few  minutes.1  With  the  exception  of  these  little 
stoppages,  the  electrical  condition  of  the  submerged  wire  seemed 
to  be  much  improved.  It  then  became  known  for  the  first 
time  that  the  low  temperature  of  the  water  at  the  immense 
depth  improved  considerably  the  insulating  properties  of  the 
gutta-percha,  while  the  enormous  pressure  to  which  it  must 
have  been  subjected  tended  to  consolidate  its  texture  and  to 
fill  up  any  air  bubbles  or  slight  faults  in  manufacture  which 
may  have  existed.  The  weather  during  that  night  moderated 
a  little  ;  but  still  there  was  a  very  heavy  sea  on,  which  en- 
dangered the  wire  every  second  minute. 

About  three  o'clock  on  the  following  (Tuesday)  morning  all 
on  board  were  startled  from  their  beds  by  the  loud  booming 
of  a  gun.  Every  one — without  waiting  for  the  performance  of 
the  most  particular  toilet — rushed  on  deck  to  ascertain  the 
cause  of  the  disturbance.  Contrary  to  all  expectation,  the  cable 
was  safe  ;  but  just  in  the  grey  light  could  be  seen  the  Valorous, 
rounded  to  in  the  most  warlike  attitude,  firing  gun  after  gun 
in  quick  succession  towards  a  large  American  barque,  which, 
quite  unconscious  of  our  proceedings,  was  standing  right  across 
our  stern.  Such  loud  and  repeated  remonstrances  from  a  large 
steam  frigate  were  not  to  be  despised  ;  and  evidently  without 

1  In  connection  with  the  above,  Bright's  diary  says  :  "  August  2nd, 
1.40  p.m.,  Professor  Thomson  reports  no  regular  signals  from  the 
Niagara  for  three  terms  of  the  usual  ten  minutes.  Currents  come, 
but  no  intelligible  signals  according  to  the  arranged  methods.  It 
is  possible  they  may  be  earth  currents." 

It  subsequently  transpired  that  the  trouble  had  been  due  to  a 
fault  in  the  Niagara's  ward-room  coil.  As  soon  as  the  electricians 
discovered  this,  and  had  it  cut  out,  all  went  smoothly  again. 


knowing  the  why  or  the  wherefore,  she  quickly  threw  her  sails 
aback  and  remained  hove  to.  Whether  those  on  board  her 
considered  that  we  were  engaged  in  some  filibustering  expedition 
or  regarded  our  proceedings  as  another  British  outrage  upon 
the  American  flag  it  is  impossible  to  say  ;  but  certain  it  is  that 
— apparently  in  great  trepidation — she  remained  hove  to  until 
we  had  lost  sight  of  her  in  the  distance. 

Tuesday  was  a  much  finer  day  than  any  we  had  experienced 
for  nearly  a  week,  but  still  there  was  a  considerable  sea  running, 
and  our  dangers  were  far  from  passed  ;  yet  the  hopes  of  our 
ultimate  success  ran  high.  We  had  accomplished  nearly  the 
whole  of  the  deep  portions  of  the  route  in  safety,  and  that,  too, 
under  the  most  unfavourable  circumstances  possible.  There 
was,  therefore,  every  reason  to  believe  that  unless  some  unfore- 
seen accident  should  occur,  we  should  accomplish  the  remain- 
der. Observations  at  noon  placed  us  in  lat.  52°26/N.,  long. 
167°  4O'W.,  having  run  134  miles  since  the  previous  day.  About 
five  o'clock  in  the  evening  the  steep  submarine  mountain  which 
divides  the  steep  telegraphic  plateau  from  the  Irish  coast  was 
reached  ;  and  the  sudden  shallowing  of  the  water  had  a  very 
marked  effect  upon  the  cable,  causing  the  strain  and  the  speed 
to  lessen  every  minute.  A  great  deal  of  slack  was  paid  out  1 
to  allow  for  any  greater  inequalities  which  might  exist,  though 
undiscovered  by  the  sounding  line.  About  ten  o'clock  the  shoal 
water  of  250  fathoms  was  reached.  The  only  remaining  anxiety 
now  was  the  changing  from  the  lower  main  coil  to  that  upon 
the  upper  deck,  and  this  most  dangerous  operation  was  suc- 
cessfully performed  between  three  and  four  o'clock  on  Wednesday 

Wednesday  was  a  beautifully  calm  day  ;  indeed,  it  was  the 
first  on  which  any  one  would  have  thought  of  making  a  splice 
since  the  day  we  started  from  the  rendezvous.  At  noon  we 

1  The  amount  of  slack  paid  out  had  already  been  almost  ruinous. 
Luckily  its  continuance  was  not  necessary,  or  we  could  scarcely 
have  reached  Ireland  with  the  cable  on  board, 


were  in  lat.  52°n/N.,  long.  i2°4O/2//W.,  eighty-nine  miles  distant 
from  the  telegraph  station  at  Valentia.  The  water  was  shallow, 
so  that  there  was  no  difficulty  in  paying  out  the  wire  with  hardly 
any  loss  by  slack  ;  and  all  looked  upon  the  undertaking  as 
virtually  accomplished.  At  about  one  o'clock  in  the  evening 
the  second  change  from  the  upper  deck  coil  to  that  upon  the 
orlop  deck  was  safely  effected,  and  shortly  after  the  vessels 
exchanged  signals  that  they  were  in  200  fathoms  water.  As 
night  advanced  the  speed  of  the  ship  was  reduced,  as  it  was 
known  that  we  were  only  a  short  distance  from  the  land,  and 
there  would  be  no  advantage  in  making  it  before  daylight  in 
the  morning.  At  about  twelve  o'clock,  however,  the  Skelligs 
Light  was  seen  in  the  distance,  and  the  Valorous  steamed  on  ahead 
to  lead  us  into  the  coast,  firing  rockets  at  intervals  to  direct  us. 

By  daylight  on  the  morning  of  Thursday,  the  5th,  the  bold 
and  rocky  mountains  which  entirely  surround  the  wild  and 
picturesque  neighbourhood  of  Valentia  rose  right  before  us  at 
a  few  miles'  distance.  Never,  probably,  was  the  sight  of  land 
more  welcome,  as  it  brought  to  a  successful  termination  one  of 
the  greatest — but  at  the  same  time  most  difficult — projects 
which  was  ever  undertaken.  Had  it  been  the  dullest  and  most 
melancholy  swamp  on  the  face  of  the  earth  that  lay  before  us, 
we  should  have  found  it  a  pleasant  prospect ;  but  as  the  sun 
rose  behind  the  estuary  of  Dingle  Bay,  tinging  with  a  deep  soft 
purple  the  lofty  summits  of  the  mountains  which  surround  its 
shores,  and  illuminating  the  masses  of  morning  vapour  which 
hung  upon  them,  it  was  a  scene  which  might  vie  in  beauty  with 
anything  that  could  be  produced  by  the  most  florid  imagination 
of  an  artist. 

No  one  on  shore  was  apparently  conscious  of  our  approach, 
so  the  Valorous  went  ahead  to  the  mouth  of  the  harbour  and 
fired  a  gun.  Both  ships  made  straight  for  Doulas  Bay— the 
Agamemnon  steaming  into  the  harbour  with  a  feeling  that  she 
had  done  something — and  about  6  a.m.  came  to  anchor  at  the 
side  of  Beginish  Island,  opposite  to  Valentia.  As  soon  as  the 
inhabitants  became  aware  of  our  impending  arrival  there  was 


THE   ATLANTIC   CABLE  .      137 

a  general  desertion  of  the  place,  and  hundreds  of  boats  crowded 
round  us,  their  passengers  in  the  greatest  state  of  excitement 
to  hear  all  about  our  voyage.  The  Knight  of  Kerry  was  absent 
in  Dingle,  but  a  messenger  was  immediately  despatched  for  him, 
and  he  soon  arrived  in  Her  Majesty's  gunboat  Shamrock. 

A  short  time  after  our  arrival  a  signal  was  received  from  the 
Niagara  that  they  were  preparing  to  land,  having  paid  out 
1,030  nautical  miles  of  cable,  while  the  Agamemnon  had  accom- 
plished her  portion  of  the  distance  with  an  expenditure  of  1,020 
miles,  making  the  total  length  of  the  wire  submerged  2,050 
geographical  miles.  Immediately  after  the  ships  cast  anchor 
the  paddle-box  boats  of  the  Valorous  were  got  ready,  and  two 
miles  of  cable  coiled  away  in  them  for  the  purpose  of  landing 
the  end.  But  it  was  late  in  the  afternoon  before  the  procession 
of  boats  left  the  ship,  under  a  salute  of  three  rounds  of  small 
arms  from  the  detachment  of  marines  on  board  the  Agamemnon. 

Progress  was  very  slow,  in  consequence  of  the  stiff  wind  which 
blew  at  the  time  ;  but  at  about  3  p.m.  the  end  was  safely  brought 
on  shore  at  Knight's  Town,  Valentia,  by  Mr.  Bright,  to  whose 
exertions  the  success  of  the  undertaking  is  attributable.  Mr. 
Bright  was  accompanied  by  Mr.  Canning  and  the  Knight  of 
Kerry.  The  end  was  immediately  laid  in  the  trench  which  had 
been  dug  to  receive  it.  Afterwards  a  royal  salute — making 
the  neighbouring  rocks  and  mountains  reverberate— announced 
that  the  communication  between  the  Old  and  the  New  World 
had  been  completed. 

The  cable  was  taken  into  the  electrical  room  by  Mr.  White- 
house  and  attached  to  a  galvanometer,  and  the  first  message 
was  received  through  the  entire  length  now  lying  on  the  bed  of 
the  sea.  It  will,  in  all  probability,  be  nearly  a  fortnight  before 
the  instruments  are  connected  at  the  two  termini  for  the  trans- 
mission of  regular  messages. 

It  is  unnecessary  here  to  expatiate  upon  the  magnitude  of 
the  undertaking  which  has  just  been  completed,  or  upon  the 
great  political  and  social  results  which  are  likely  to  accrue  from 
it ;  but  there  cannot  fail  to  be  a  feeling  of  universal  admiration 


for  the  courage  and  perseverance  which  have  been  displayed 
by  Mr.  Bright,1  and  those  who  acted  under  his  orders,  in  en- 
countering the  manifold  difficulties  which  arose  on  their  path 
at  every  step.2 

In  contradistinction  to  the  heavy  seas  and  difficulties  the 
Agamemnon  had  to  contend  with,  her  consort,  the  Niagara, 


experienced  very  quiet  weather  ;   and  her  part  of  the  work 

1  In  the  Institution  of  Civil  Engineers'  obituary  notice  of  Charles 
Bright  the  following  lines  are  of  some  interest  in  this  connection : 
"  The  enormous  amount   of  energy  and  resource   required  for  the 
organisation  and  fitting  out  of  such  an  expedition  in  those  early 
days  can  only  with  difficulty  be  comprehended.     The  details   of 
such  an  undertaking  are  indeed  massive,  and  reflect  the  very  highest 
credit  on  the  abilities  of  the  late  Sir  Charles  Bright,  who  (on  this 
occasion,  as  on  others)  showed  himself  to  be  a  man  of  extraordinary 
energy  and  power,  and  endowed  with  perseverance  under  difficulties 
— qualities   which  enabled    him  to  bring  this  never-to-be-forgotten 
undertaking  to  a  successful  issue." 

2  The  Times,  Wednesday,  August  nth,  1858. 


was  comparatively  uneventful  l-~ with  the  exception  of  the 
fault  near  the  bottom  of  the  ward-room  coil,  which  has 
already  been  referred  to.  This  was  detected  during  the 
operations  on  the  night  of  August  2nd,  but  was  removed  before 
it  was  paid  out  into  the  sea  at  a  depth  of  two  miles.  About 
four  o'clock  the  next  morning  the  continuity  and  insulation 
was  accordingly  restored  ;  and,  says  Mullaly,  "  all  was  going 
on  as  if  nothing  had  occurred  to  disturb  the  confidence  we 
felt  in  the  success  of  the  expedition." 

A  little  later  the  same  chronicler  remarks  :— 

Confidence  is  growing  stronger,  and  there  is  considerable 
speculation  as  to  the  time  we  shall  reach  Newfoundland.  The 
pilot  who  is  to  bring  us  into  Trinity  Bay  is  now  in  great  repute, 
and  is  becoming  a  more  important  personage  every  day.  His 
opinion  is  solicited  in  regard  to  the  weather,  as  he  is  supposed 
to  know  something  about  it  in  these  latitudes.  He  is  also  par- 
ticularly catechised  on  the  navigation  of  the  bay  and  the  forma- 
tion and  character  of  the  coast.  We  are  really  beginning  to 
have  strong  hopes  that  his  services  will  be  called  into  requisition, 
and  that  in  the  course  of  a  few  days  more  we  shall  be  in  sight 
of  land. 

Again,  when  nearing  the  end,  Mullaly  describes  in  stirring 
language  the  various  icebergs — some  a  hundred  feet  high 
—which  they  met  with. 

Shortly  after  entering  Trinity  Bay,  Newfoundland,  the 
Niagara  was  met  by  H.M.S.  Porcupine,  which  had  been  sent 
out  from  England  at  the  very  beginning  of  the  1858  expedi- 
tion to  await  her  approach  and  render  any  assistance  that 
might  be  required.  The  Niagara  anchored  about  i  a.m  on 

1   The  Story  of  the  Atlantic  Cable, 


August  5th,  having  completed  her  work  ;  and  during  the 
forenoon  of  that  day  the  cable  was  landed  in  a  little  bay,  Bull 
Arm,1  at  the  head  of  Trinity  Bay,  when  they  "  received  very 
strong  currents  of  electricity  through  the  whole  cable  from 
the  other  side  of  the  Atlantic."  2  The  telegraph  house  at 
the  Newfoundland  end  was  some  two  miles  from  the  beach, 
and  connected  to  the  cable  by  a  land  line. 

The  Celebration 

On  landing  at  Valentia,  Charles  Bright  at  once  sent  the 
following  welcome  message  to  his  Board,  which  was  forth- 
with passed  on  to  the  Press  :— 

VALENTIA,  August  $th. 
Charles  Bright,  to  the  Directors  of  the  Atlantic  Telegraph  Company. 

The  Agamemnon  has  arrived  at  Valentia,  and  we  are  about 
to  land  the  end  of  the  cable. 

The  Niagara  is  in  Trinity  Bay,  Newfoundland.  There  are 
good  signals  between  the  ships. 

We  reached  the  rendezvous  on  the  night  of  the  28th,  and 
the  splice  with  the  Niagara  cable  was  made  on  board  the  Aga- 
memnon the  following  morning. 

By  noon  on  the  soth,  265  nautical  miles  were  laid  between 
the  ships  ;  on  the  sist,  540  ;  on  the  ist  August,  884  ;  on  the 
2nd,  1,256  ;  on  the  4th,  1,854  5  on  anchoring  at  six  in  the  morn- 
ing, in  Doulas  Bay,  2,022. 

The  speed  of  the  Niagara  during  the  whole  time  has  been 

L  This  spot  had  been  selected  on  account  of  its  seclusion  from 
prevailing  winds,  and  owing  to  the  shelter  it  afforded  from  drifting 

2  Engineer's  log,  U.S.N.S.  Niagara. 



nearly  the  same  as  ours,  the  length  of  cable  paid  out  from  the 
two  ships  being  generally  within  ten  miles  of  each  other. 

With  the  exception  of  yesterday,  the  weather  has  been  very 


In  the  afternoon  of  Thursday,  August  5th — as  already 
described  in  The  Times  report — Charles  Bright  and  his  staff 
brought  to  shore  the  end  of  the  cable,  at  White  Strand 
Bay,  near  Knight's  Town,  Valentia,  in  the  boats  of  the 

1  The  Times,  2nd  edition,  August  5th,  1858. 

Some  days  later  Charles  Bright  sent  in  his  official  report,  setting 
forth  fully  the  main  features  of  the  expedition.  Here  the  maximum 
depth  was  shown  to  be  2,400  fathoms — nearly  2^  statute  miles — 
and  the  average  slack  paid  out  somewhere  about  17  per  cent.  This 
report  (reproduced  in  The  Times)  was  given  in  full  as  Appendix  9 
to  Vol.  I.  of  the  original  biography. 


Valorous,  welcomed  by  the  united  cheers  of  the  small  crowd 

As  soon  as  his  work  was  completed,  Charles  Bright  sent 
his  wife  a  telegram  couched  in  these  laconic  terms : 
"  Atlantic  cable  laid.  Signals  received  both  ways." 

All  England  applauded  the  triumph  of  such  undaunted 
perseverance,  and  the  engineering  and  nautical  skill  displayed 
in  this  victory  over  the  elements.  The  Atlantic  Telegraph 
had  been  justly  characterised  by  Professor  Morse  as  the 
"  great  feat  of  the  century,"  and  this  was  re-echoed  by  all 
the  Press  on  its  realisation.  The  following  extract  from  the 
leading  article  of  The  Times,  the  day  after  completion,  is  an 
example  of  the  comments  upon  the  achievement  :— 

Mr.  Bright,  having  landed  the  end  of  the  Atlantic  cable  at 
Valentia,  has  brought  to  a  successful  termination  his  anxious 
and  difficult  task  of  linking  the  Old  World  with  the  New.  Since 
the  discovery  of  Columbus,  nothing  has  been  done  in  any  degree 
comparable  to  the  vast  enlargement  which  has  thus  been  given 
to  the  sphere  of  human  activity.1 

The  rejoicing  in  America,  both  in  public  and  private, 
knew  no  bounds.  The  astounding  news  of  the  success  of 
this  unparalleled  enterprise,  after  such  combats  with 
storm  and  sea,  "  created  universal  enthusiasm,  exultation 
and  joy,  such  as  was,  perhaps,  never  before  produced  by  any 
event,  not  even  the  discovery  of  the  Western  hemisphere. 
Many  had  predicted  its  failure — some  from  ignorance,  others 

1  For  the  rest  of  this  "leader"  see  Appendix  gb  to  Vol.  I.  of 
the  original  biography. 


simply  because  they  were  anti-progressives  by  nature. 
Philanthropists  everywhere  hailed  it  as  the  greatest  event  of 
modern  times,  heralding  the  good  time  coming  of  universal 
peace  and  brotherhood." 

In  Newfoundland,  Mr.  Field,  with  Captain  Hudson,  of 
the  Niagara,  Captain  Dayman,  of  H.M.S.  Gorgon,  and 
Commander  H.  C.  Otter,  of  H.M.S.  Porcupine,  together  with 
Mr.  Bright's  assistant  engineers,  Messrs.  Everett  and  Wood- 
house,  and  the  electricians,  Messrs,  de  Sauty  and  Laws, 
received  the  heartiest  congratulations  and  welcome  from  the 
Governor  and  Legislative  Council  of  the  Colony.  Whilst 
acknowledging  these  congratulations,  Mr.  Field  remarked : 
"  We  have  had  many  difficulties  to  surmount,  many  dis- 
couragements to  bear,  and  some  enemies  to  overcome,  whose 
very  opposition  has  stimulated  us  to  greater  exertion." 

It  was  a  curious  coincidence  that  the  cable  was  suc- 
cessfully completed  to  Valentia  on  the  same  day,  in 
1858,  on  which  the  shore  end  had  been  landed  the  year 
before. 1 

Charles  Bright,  with  Messrs.  Canning  and  Clifford,  and 
the  rest  of  the  staff — including  Professor  Thomson,  and 
the  other  electricians — were  absolutely  exhausted  with  the 

1  Moreover,  it  was  exactly  one  hundred  and  eleven  years  to  a  day 
since  Dr.  (later  Sir  William)  Watson  had  astonished  the  scientific 
world  by  sending  an  electric  current  through  a  wire  two  miles  long, 
using  the  earth  as  a  return  circuit. 

It  is  also  worthy  of  note  that  the  first  recorded  feat  of  telegraphy 
was  executed  by  order  of  King  Agamemnon  to  his  queen,  announcing 
the  fall  of  Troy,  1084,  years  before  the  birth  of  Christ,  and  that 
the  great  feat  which  we  have  narrated  was  carried  out  by  the  great 
ship  Agamemnon,  as  we  have  here  shown. 


incessant  watching,  apart  from  the  anxiety  that  attended 
their  arduous  work.  Valentia  proved  a  haven  of  rest  for 
these  "  toilers  of  the  deep." 

But  a  series  of  banquets  had  to  be  faced. 

Soon  after  his  duties  at  Valentia  were  over,  Bright  made 
his  way  to  Dublin.  Here  he  was  entertained  by  the  Lord 
Mayor  and  civic  authorities  of  that  capital  on  Wednesday, 
September  ist.  On  this  occasion  Cardinal  Wiseman,  who 
was  present,  made  an  eloquent  speech  ;  and  the  following 
account  of  the  proceedings  (from  the  Morning  Post)  may 
be  suitably  quoted  :— 

The  banquet  given  on  Wednesday,  the  ist,  by  the  Lord  Mayor 
of  Dublin,  to  Mr.  C.  T.  Bright,  engineer-in-chief  to  the  Atlantic 
Telegraph  Company,  was  a  great  success.  The  assemblage  em- 
braced the  highest  names  in  the  metropolis — civil,  military,  and 
official.  Cardinal  Wiseman  was  present  in  full  cardinalite 

The  Lord  Mayor,  in  proposing  the  toast  of  the  evening,  "  The 
health  of  Mr.  Bright,"  dwelt  with  much  eloquence  on  the  achieve- 
ments of  science,  and  paid  a  marked  and  merited  compliment 
to  the  genius  and  perseverance  which,  in  the  face  of  discourage- 
ment from  the  scientific  world,  had  succeeded  in  bringing  about 
their  great  accomplishment,  the  laying  of  the  Atlantic  telegraph. 
His  lordship's  speech  was  most  complimentary  to  the  distin- 
guished guest,  Mr.  C.  T.  Bright. 

Mr.  Bright  rose,  amidst  loud  cheers,  to  respond.  He  thanked 
the  assemblage  for  their  hearty  welcome,  and  said  he  was  deeply 
sensible  of  the  honour.  He  next  commented  upon  the  value 
of  this  means  of  communication  for  the  prevention  of  misunder- 
standing between  the  Governments  of  the  Great  Powers,  and 
then  referred  to  the  services  of  the  gentlemen  who  had  been 
associated  with  him  in  laying  the  cable,  with  whom  he  desired 


to  share  the  honours  done  him  that  night.     (Mr.  Bright  was 
warmly  cheered  throughout  his  eloquent  speech.) 

Mr.  Bright  then  proposed  the  health  of  Mr.  Cyrus  Field, 
acknowledging  in  warm  terms  the  services  of  this  gentleman 
in  the  great  project. 

Referring  next  day,  in  a  letter  to  his  wife,  to  these  pro- 
ceedings, Bright  said  : — 

The  Cardinal  came  in  tremendous  costume,  just  like  Kean 
in  Henry  VIII,  with  a  large  jewelled  cross  round  his  neck,  and 
an  immense  sparkling  ring  of  office  on  his  white  hand,  which 
contrasted  strongly  with  his  red  face  and  dress.  However,  I 
found  him  a  very  pleasant  man,  full  of  scientific  knowledge 
and  interest  in  the  Atlantic  line.  He  pressed  me  to  come  to 
see  him  in  London. 

I  hope  you  thought  my  speech  a  good  one  !  I  was  glad  to 
have  a  public  opportunity  of  shaming  the  "  Yankees  "  by  pro- 
posing Cyrus  Field's  health. 

Charles  Bright  was  honoured  with  knighthood  within 
a  few  days  of  his  landing. 

As  this  was  considered  a  special  occasion — apart  from 
ordinary  periodic  honours— and  as  the  Queen  was  at  that 
time  on  her  famous  and  important  visit  to  the  Empress  of 
the  French  at  Cherbourg,  it  was  arranged  that  the  cere- 
mony should  be  performed  there  and  then,  at  Dublin,  by 
His  Excellency  the  Lord  Lieutenant  of  Ireland  (the  Earl  of 
Eglinton),  in  Her  Majesty's  name. x 

With  reference  to  this,  Bright  wrote  to  his  wife  the 
day  before  : — 

1  The  following  spring  Charles  Bright  was  duly  "  presented  " 
at  Court  (by  Lord  Eglinton),  in  connection  with  his  knighthood. 



The  Lord  Lieutenant  having  expressed  a  wish  to  see  me,  I 
had  an  interview  with  him  this  morning.  He  intimated  his  de- 
sire to  confer  upon  me — on  behalf  of  Her  Majesty — the  honour 
of  knighthood,  which  ceremony  is  to  be  performed  to-morrow, 
after  which  I  dine  with  him  to  meet  a  large  party  of  the  noble 
folks  of  the  land,  and  then  I  shall  be  glad  to  get  home  and  have 
a  little  quiet  with  "Lady  Bright." 

Bright  was  but  twenty-six  years  of  age  at  the  time, 
being  the  youngest  man  who  had  received  the  distinction 
for  generations  past — and  no  similar  instance  has  occurred 
since.  It  was,  moreover,  the  first  title  conferred  on  the 
telegraphic  profession,  and  remained  so  for  some  years. 

With  Professor  Thomson  and  other  colleagues  Sir  Charles 
was  light  royally  entertained  in  Dublin,  Killarney,  and 
elsewhere,  the  Lord  Lieutenant  taking  a  prominent  part  in 
the  celebrations.  *  Indeed,  in  Ireland  generally,  where 
he  had  been  previously  known  for  years  as  the  engineer  of 
the  "  Magnetic  "  Company — whose  wires  he  had  extended 
throughout  the  length  and  breadth  of  the  Emerald  Isle — 
warm  greetings  were  unbounded. 

A  few  days  later,  on  the  occasion  of  the  grand  banquet 
given  in  his  honour  at  Killarney  by  the  nobility  and  gentry 
of  Kerry,  His  Excellency  the  Lord  Lieutenant,  after  some 
prefatory  remarks,  thus  referred  to  him  and  the  cable  2  :— 

1  It  was  just  previous  to  one  of  these  at  the  Vice-Regal  Lodge 
that  opportunity  was  taken  to  perform  the  ceremony  of  "  knighting  " 
Bright.     At  the  dinner  afterwards  he  sat  next  to  the  then  Duchess 
of  Manchester,  who  reminded  him  that  an  ancestor  of  his  had  married 
Lady  Lucy  Montagu — one  of  the  Duke's  family — of  previous  days. 

2  Daily  News,  August  2oth,   1858. 


When  we  consider  the  extraordinary  undertaking  that  has 
been  accomplished  within  the  last  few  weeks  ;  when  we  consider 
that  a  cable  of  about  2,000  miles  has  been  extended  beneath 
the  ocean — a  length  which,  if  multiplied  ten  times,  would  reach 
our  farthest  colonies  and  nearly  surround  the  earth  ;  when  we 
consider  it  is  stretched  along  the  bed  of  shingles  and  shells, 
which  appeared  destined  for  it  as  a  foundation  by  Providence, 
and  stretching  from  the  points  which  human  enterprises  would 
look  to  ;  and  when  we  consider  the  great  results  that  will 
flow  from  this  great  work,  we  are  at  a  loss  how  sufficiently  to 
admire  the  genius  and  energy  of  those  who  planned  it,  or  how 
to  be  sufficiently  thankful  to  the  Almighty  for  having  delegated 
such  a  power  to  the  human  race,  for  whose  benefit  it  is  to  be 
put  in  force.  (Cheers.)  And  let  us  look  at  the  career  which 
this  telegraph  has  passed  since  it  was  originally  discovered. 
At  first,  it  was  rapidly  laid  over  the  land,  uniting  states,  com- 
munities and  countries,  extending  over  hills  and  valleys,  roads 
and  railways  ;  but  the  sea  appeared  to  present  an  impenetrable 
barrier.  It  could  not  stop  here,  however ;  submarine  tele- 
graphy was  but  a  question  of  time,  and  the  first  enterprise  by 
which  it  was  introduced  was  in  connection  with  an  old  foe — and 
at  present  our  best  friend — Imperial  France.  (Hear,  hear.) 
The  next  attempt  which  was  successful  was  the  junction  of  Eng- 
land and  our  island,  which  was  carried  out  by  the  same  dis- 
tinguished engineer  whose  name  is  now  in  the  mouth  of  every 
man.  (Hear,  hear.)  Other  submarine  attempts  followed  : 
the  telegraph  paused  before  the  great  Atlantic,  like  another 
Alexander,  weeping  as  if  it  had  no  more  worlds  to  conquer  ; 
but  it  has  found  another  world,  and  it  has  gained  it— not  bringing 
strife  or  conquest,  but  carrying  with  it  peace  and  goodwill. 
(Applause.)  I  feel  I  should  be  wanting  if  I  did  not  allude  in 
terms  of  admiration  to  the  genius  and  skill  of  the  engineer, 
Sir  Charles  Bright,  who  has  carried  out  this  project  and 
brought  it  to  a  successful  termination.  (Applause.)  It  is 
not  necessary,  I  am  certain,  to  call  attention  to  the  diligence  and 
attention  shown  by  the  crew  of  the  Agamemnon— (cheers)— 


because.!  am  sure  there  is  no  one  here  who  has  not  read  the 
description  of  the  voyage  in  the  newspapers.  The  zeal,  courage 
and  enterprise  exhibited  were  only  to  be  equalled  by  the  skill 
with  which  it  was  carried  out.  I  believe  there  was  only  a  differ- 
ence of  twelve  miles  between  the  two  ends  of  the  cable  when 
it  came  to  the  shore.  There  are  some  questions  with  regard 
to  the  date  at  which  the  work  was  effected,  to  which  I  wish  to 
call  attention.  It  was  on  the  5th  August,  1857,  that  this  enterprise 
was  first  commenced  under  the  auspices  of  my  distinguished 
predecessor,  who  I  wish  was  here  now  to  rejoice  in  its  success — 
I  mean  only  in  a  private  capacity.  (Cheers  and  laughter.)  It  was 
on  the  5th  August,  1858,  it  was  completed,  and  it  was  on  the  5th 
August,  more  than  300  years  ago,  that  Columbus  left  the  shores  of 
Spain  to  proceed  on  his  ever-memorable  voyage  to  America. 
It  was  on  the  5th  August,  1583,  that  Sir  Hugh  Gilbert,  a  worthy 
countryman  of  Raleigh  and  Drake,  steered  his  good  ship  the 
Squirrel  to  the  shores  of  Newfoundland,  and  first  unfurled  the 
flag  of  England  in  the  very  bay  where  this  triumph  has  now 
taken  place — (applause) — and  it  was  on  the  same  5th  of  August 
that  your  Sovereign  was  received  by  her  imperial  friend  amidst 
the  fortifications  of  Cherbourg,  arid  thereby  put  an  end  to  the 
ridiculous  nonsense  about  strife  and  dissension.  (Applause.) 
Let  the  5th  August  be  a  day  ever  memorable  among  nations.  Let 
it  be,  if  I  may  so  term  it,  the  birthday  of  England.  (Applause.) 
Among  the  many  points  which  must  have  given  every  one 
satisfaction,  was  the  manner  in  which  this  great  success  was 
received  in  America.  (Hear,  hear.)  There  appears  to  have  been 
but  one  feeling  of  rejoicing  predominant  amongst  them  ;  and 
I  cannot  but  think  that  that  was  not  only  owing  to  their  commer- 
cial enterprise — which  they  shared  along  with  us — but  also 
to  the  feelings  of  consanguinity  and  affection  which  I  am  sure 
we  share,  though  occasionally  disturbed  by  international  dis- 
putes, and  by  differences  caused  by  misrepresentations  or  hasti- 
ness. It  must  still  burn  as  brightly  in  their  breasts  as  in  ours. 
(Applause.)  I  trust  that,  not  only  with  our  friends  across  the 
Atlantic,  but  with  every  civilised  nation,  this  great  triumph 


of  science  will  prove  the  harbinger  of  peace,  goodwill,  and  friend- 
ship ;  and  that  England  and  America  will  not  verify  the  first 
line  of  the  stanza — 

Lands  intersected  by  a  narrow  firth 
Abhor  each  other, 

but  that  they  will,  by  mutual  intercourse,  arrive  at  the  last  line 
of  that  stanza,  and,  "  like  kindred  drops,  be  mingled  into  one." 
(Warm  applause.) 

After  the  various  functions  in  Ireland  celebrating  the  lay- 
ing of  the  cable  had  been  exhausted,  Bright  was  glad  to 
have  the  opportunity  of  returning  to  his  family  at  Harrow 
Weald,  for  the  first  time  since  the  successful  completion 
of  the  work. 

SECTION    12 
The  Working  of  the  Line 

As  previously  shown,  two  descriptions  of  instruments 
were  used  on  board  the  ships  for  testing  and  working 
through  whilst  laying  the  cable.  These  were  the  detector 
of  Mr.  Whitehouse  and  Professor  Thomson's  reflecting 
apparatus.  The  process  of  testing  consisted  in  sending 
from  one  to  the  other  vessel  alternately,  during  a  period 
of  ten  minutes,  first,  a  "  reversal  "  every  minute  for  five 
minutes,1  and  then  a  current  in  one  direction  for  five  minutes. 
The  results  were  observed  and  recorded  on  board  both  ships. 
There  was  also  a  special  signal  for  each  ten  miles  of  cable 
paid  out  between  the  vessels. 

When  the  splice  was  made  on  the   2Qth  July,  72°  deflec- 

1  This  is  usually  described  as  a  current  first  in  one  direction,  and 
then  in  another,  though,  perhaps,  not  strictly  accurate,  technically. 


tions  were  obtained  on  the  Agamemnon  from  seventy-five 
cells  of  a  sawdust  Daniell's  battery  on  board  the  Niagara, 
which  had  given  83°  on  entry.  On  arrival  at  Valentia 
at  6.30  a.m.  on  August  5th,  the  deflection  on  the  same 
instruments  (detector  and  marine  galvanometer  being 
both  in  circuit  as  before)  was  68°  ;  while  the  sending  battery 
power  on  the  Niagara  had  fallen  off  at  entry  to  62^° 
through  the  marine  galvanometer  on  board  that  vessel. 

The  figures  quoted  show  that,  taking  into  account  the 
certain  diminution  in  electro-motive  force  of  the  "  sawdust  " 
battery  employed,  the  cable  had  considerably  improved 
by  submersion,  the  insulation  being  even  greater  than 
that  recorded  before  laying,  when  the  cable  was  reported 
as  perfect. 

When  Charles  Bright  and  his  staff  had  accomplished 
their  part  of  the  undertaking  on  August  5th,  the  cable  was 
handed  over  to  Mr.  Whitehouse,  the  electrician  of  the 
Company,  and  his  assistants.  It  was  then  reported  to  be  in 
perfect  condition.1  Mr.  Whitehouse,  however,  after  taking 
charge  of  the  line,  found  difficulty  in  working  it  with  his 
special  induction  apparatus,2  but  appears  to  have  made 
no  report  to  the  Board  for  some  time.  No  information 
arrived  at  headquarters  except  some  telegrams  stating  that 
signals  were  highly  satisfactory,  and  that  the  adjustment  of 
instruments  was  progressing.3  More  than  a  week  passed, 

1  The  Story  of  the  Atlantic  Cable. 

2  Besides  being  fully   described  in    the  pages    of   The   Engineer 
at  the  time,  some  of  Mr.  Whitehouse's  apparatus  may  now  be  seen 
at  Messrs.  Elliott   Brothers,  the  famous  instrument  makers. 

3  The  Transatlantic  Submarine  Telegraph,  p.  33,  by  George  Saward, 
Secretary  to  the  Atlantic  Telegraph  Company. 


during  which  Mr.  Whitehouse  continued  his  ineffectual 
efforts  to  work  with  the  induction  apparatus  ;  and  then 
Professor  Thomson's  reflecting  galvanometer— that  had 
worked  so  well  during  the  voyage— was  again  inserted, 
with  ordinary  Daniell  cells,  in  the  circuit. 

Thus,  communication  was  resumed,  the  first  clear  message 
being  received  from  Newfoundland  on  August  13th, 
1858,  and  on  the  i6th  the  following  message  was  got  through 
from  the  directors  in  England  to  the  directors  in  America  x : — 

Europe  and  America  are  united  by  telegraph.  "  Glory  to 
God  in  the  highest,  on  earth  peace,  good-will  toward  men."  2 

Then  followed  :— 

From  Her  Majesty  the  Queen  of  Great  Britain  to  His  Excellency 

the  President  of  the  United  States. 

The  Queen  desires  to  congratulate  the  President  upon  the 
successful  completion  of  this  great  international  work,  in  which 
the  Queen  has  taken  the  greatest  interest. 

1  There  had  been  a  considerable  delay  in  getting  the   apparatus 
ready  at  Newfoundland  ;    and,  unfortunately,  they  adhered  to  alter- 
nating electro-magnetic    apparatus    there,    in    conjunction   with  a 
relay.     The   result   was    that   supreme   difficulty    was  experienced 
throughout  in  working  the  line  this  way.     On  the  other   hand,    at 
Valentia  they  once  reported  :    "  We  are  now  receiving  from    New- 
foundland accurately,  at  the  rate  of  100  words  per  hour."     Indeed, 
nearly  all  the  really  successful  working  was  effected  by  the  Thomson 
"  marine  galvanometer,"  at  a  speed  up  to  five  words    per  minute, 
as  compared  with  1-75  per  minute  with  the  other  apparatus. 

2  With  reference  to  this  and  some  of  the  following  cablegrams, 
Sir  D.  Brewster  wrote  (in  the  Edinburgh  Review)  at  the  time  :    "It 
is  impossible  to  read,  without  emotion,  these  messages  which  breathe 
— from  the  earliest  to  the  latest — the  ardent  wish  that   peace  and 
good  will  should  reign  between  hitherto  unfriendly  nations,  born  of 
the  same  blood,  speaking  the  same  tongue,  and  rejoicing  in  the  same 


The  Queen  is  convinced  that  the  President  will  join  with 
her  in  fervently  hoping  that  the  electric  cable,  which  now 
already  connects  Great  Britain  with  the  United  States,  will 
prove  an  additional  link  between  the  two  nations,  whose 
friendship  is  founded  upon  their  common  interest  and  recipro- 
cal esteem. 

The  Queen  has  much  pleasure  in  thus  directly  communicating 
with  the  President,  and  in  renewing  to  him  her  best  wishes 
for  the  prosperity  of  the  United  States. 

The  message  was  shortly  afterwards  responded  to  as 
follows  : — 


The  President  of  the  United  States  to  Her  Majesty  Victoria,  Queen 
of  Great  Britain. 

The  President  cordially  reciprocates  the  congratulations  of 
Her  Majesty  the  Queen  on  the  success  of  the  great  international 
enterprise  accomplished  by  the  skill,  science,  and  indomitable 
energy  of  the  two  countries. 

It  is  a  triumph  more  glorious,  because  far  more  useful  to 
mankind,  than  was  ever  won  by  a  conqueror  on  the  field  of 

May  the  Atlantic  Telegraph,  under  the  blessing  of  Heaven, 
prove  to  be  a  bond  of  perpetual  peace  and  friendship  between 
the  kindred  nations,  and  an  instrument  destined  by  Divine 
Providence  to  diffuse  religion,  civilisation,  liberty,  and  law 
throughout  the  world  ! 

In  this  view  will  not  all  the  nations  of  Christendom  spon- 
taneously unite  in  the  declaration  that  it  shall  be  for  ever  neutral, 
and  that  its  communications  shall  be  held  sacred  in  passing  to 
the  place  of  their  destination,  even  in  the  midst  of  hostilities  ? 


Throughout  the  United  States  the  arrival  of  the  Queen's 


message  was  the  signal  for  a  fresh  outburst  of  popular  en- 

Mr.  Henry  Field  wrote  in  his  description : — 
The  next  morning,  August  lyth,  the  city  of  New  York  was 
awakened  by  the  thunder  of  artillery.  A  hundred  guns  were 
fired  in  the  City  Hall  Park  at  daybreak,  and  the  salute  was 
repeated  at  noon.  At  this  hour  flags  were  flying  from  all  the 
public  buildings,  and  the  bells  of  the  principal  churches  began 
to  ring,  as  Christmas  bells  signal  the  birthday  of  One  Who 
came  to  bring  peace  and  good-will  to  men — chimes  that,  it  was 
fondly  hoped,  might  usher  in,  as  they  should,  a  new  era. 

Ring  out  the  old,  ring  in  the  new, 
Ring  out  the  false,  ring  in  the  true. 

That  night  the  city  was  illuminated.  Never  had  it  seen  so 
brilliant  a  spectacle.  Such  was  the  blaze  of  light  around  the 
City  Hall  that  the  cupola  caught  fire  and  was  consumed,  and  the 
Hall  itself  narrowly  escaped  destruction.  But  one  night  did 
not  exhaust  the  public  enthusiasm,  for  the  following  evening 
witnessed  one  of  those  displays  for  which  New  York  surpasses 
all  the  cities  of  the  world — a  fireman's  torchlight  procession. 
Moreover,  several  wagon-loads  (each  containing  about  twelve 
miles)  of  the  cable  left  on  board  the  Niagara  were  drawn  through 
the  principal  streets  of  the  city. 

Similar  demonstrations  took  place  in  other  parts  of  the  United 

1  Whoever  shall  write  the  history  of  popular  enthusiasm  must 
give  a  large  space  to  the  way  in  which  the  advent  of  Atlantic  tele- 
graphy was  received  in  the  United  States.  Never  did  the  tidings 
of  any  great  achievement — whether  of  peace  or  war — more  truly 
electrify  a  nation.  In  New  York,  the  news  was  received  at  first  with 
incredulity.  No  doubt  the  impression  was  greater,  because  it  took 
every  one  completely  by  surprise.  This  undertaking  had  been 
looked  upon  as  hopeless.  Its  projectors  had  shared  the  usual  lot 
of  those  who  conceive  vast  designs  and  venture  on  great  enterprises, 
and  their  labours  had  been  watched  with  mixed  feelings  of  derision 
and  pity. 


States.  From  the  Atlantic  to  the  valley  of  the  Mississippi, 
and  to  the  Gulf  of  Mexico,  in  every  city  was  heard  the  firing 
of  guns  and  the  ringing  of  bells.  Nothing  seemed  too  extrava- 
gant to  give  expression  to  the  popular  rejoicing. 

The  English  Press  were  warm  in  their  recognition  of 
those  to  whom  the  nation  were  "  indebted  for  bringing  into 
action  the  greatest  invention  of  the  age,"  1  and  expressed 
their  full  belief  that  "  the  effect  of  bringing  the  Three 
Kingdoms  and  the  United  States  into  instantaneous 
communication  with  each  other  will  be  to  render  hostilities 
between  the  two  nations  almost  impossible  for  the  future." 

And  again  :— "  More  was  done  yesterday  for  the  con- 
solidation of  our  Empire  than  the  wisdom  of  our  statesmen, 
the  liberality  of  our  Legislature,  or  the  loyalty  of  our 
Colonists  could  ever  have  effected." 

The  sermons  preached  on  the  subject,  both  in  England 
and  America,  were  literally  without  number.  Enough 
found  their  way  into  print  to  fill  several  large  volumes. 
Never,  indeed,  had  an  event  more  deeply  touched  the 
spirit  of  religious  enthusiasm. 

With  further  reference  to  the  active  life  of  the  cable, 
the  following  communications  have  some  interest  :— 

Three  long  congratulatory  messages  were  transmitted : 
One  on  August  i8th,  from  Mr.  Peter  Cooper,  President 
of  the  New  York,  Newfoundland,  and  London  Telegraph 
Company,  to  the  Directors  of  the  Atlantic  Telegraph 
Company  ;  another,  from  the  Mayor  of  New  York  to  the 
Lord  Mayor  of  London,  his  reply  in  acknowledgment 

1  The  Times,  August  6th,   1858. 



Two  of  the  great  Cunard  mail  steamers,  the  Europa 
and  Arabia,  came  into  collision  on  August  I4th,  while  on 
their  outward  and  homeward  voyages.  Neither  the  news 
nor  the  injured  vessels  could  reach  those  concerned  on  both 
sides  of  the  Atlantic  for  some  days  ;  but  as  soon  as  it  became 
known  in  New  York,  a  message  was  sent  by  the  cable  :— 

Arabia  in  collision  with  Europa,  Cape  Race,  Saturday.    Arabia 



Received  per  the  Atlantic  Telegraph  Company. 

Message,  this /Y  day  of 

18  J+ 


on  her  way.  Head  slightly  injured.  Europa  lost  bowsprit, 
cutwater  stem  sprung.  Will  remain  in  St.  John's  ten  days  from 
i6th.  Persia  calls  at  St.  John's  for  mails  and  passengers.  No 
loss  of  life  or  limb. 


This  first  public  news  message  showed  the  relief  given 
by  speedy  knowledge  in  dispelling  doubt  and  fear.  Subse- 
quently, messages  giving  the  news  on  both  Continents 
were  transmitted,  and  published  daily. 

Further,  as  exemplifying  the  aid  the  cable  afforded  to 
our  Government,  we  may  mention  two  messages  sent  from 
the  Commander-in-Chief,  at  the  Horse  Guards,  on  August 
3ist — owing  to  the  quelling  of  the  Indian  Mutiny — cancel- 
ling orders  sent  by  mail  to  Canada,  thus  :— 

The  first,  to  General  Trollope,  Halifax,  ran  as  follows  : 
"  The  62nd  Regiment  is  not  to  return  to  England."  The 
other,  to  the  officer  in  command  at  Montreal,  ran  thus  : 
"  The  3Qth  Regiment  is  not  to  return  to  England." 

From  £50,000  to  £60,000  was  estimated  by  the  authori- 
ties to  have  been  saved  in  the  unnecessary  transportation 
of  the  troops  by  these  two  cable  communications,  which 
were  delivered  the  same  day  that  they  were  sent. 

But  the  insulation  of  the  precious  wire  had,  unhappily, 
been  giving  way  ;  and  the  diminished  flashes  of  light 
proved  to  be  only  the  flickering  of  the  flame  that  was 
soon  to  be  extinguished  in  the  eternal  darkness  of  the 
waters.  After  a  period  of  confused  signals,  the  line 
ultimately  breathed  its  last  on  October  20th,  after  732  mes- 
sages in  all  had  been  conveyed  during  a  period  of  three 
months.  The  last  word  which  the  line  uttered — and  which 
may  be  said  to  have  come  beyond  the  sea — was  "  For- 
ward !  "  The  very  day  that  the  whole  of  New  York  rose 
up  to  do  honour  to  the  Atlantic  Telegraph — when  the 
roar  of  guns,  the  chiming  of  bells  in  the  sacred  spires,  and 


the  shouts  of  joy  throughout  the  land  might  be  heard 
o'er  hill  and  dale,  and  when  even  London  was  about  to 
do  it  honour — the  throbs  of  this  almost  living  thing  were 
becoming  visibly  weaker,  and  fears  began  to  prevail 
that  it  would  shortly  sleep  for  ever  silent  in  its  ocean 

The  line  had  been  subject  to  frequent  interruption  through- 
out. The  wonder  is  that  it  did  so  much,  when  we  consider 
the  lack  of  experience  at  that  period  in  the  initial  manufac- 
ture of  deep-sea  cables,  the  short  time  allowed,  and  the 
treatment  the  line  received  after  being  laid.  1 

An  unusually  violent  lightning  storm  occurred  at  New- 
foundland shortly  after  the  cable  had  been  laid.  This  was 
spoken  of  as  a  possible  part  cause  of  the  gradual  failure  of 
the  line ;  also  a  supposed  "  factory  fault,"  masked 
by  the  tar  in  the  hemp.  There  were,  however,  those  who 
hinted  at  foul  play.  It  was  certainly  singular  that  the 
cable  should  continue  to  work  for  several  weeks  and 
only  show  definite  signs  of  sickness  on  the  very  day  of 
the  celebration  in  New  York  ! 

When  all  the  efforts  of  the  electricians  failed  to  draw  more 
than  a  few  faint  whispers— a  dying  gasp  from  the  depths 
of  the  sea— there  ensued,  in  the  public  mind,  a  feeling  of 

1  It  is  extremely  doubtful  whether  any  cable,  even  of  the  present 
day,  would  long  stand  a  trial  with  currents  so  generated  and  of  such 

In  his  work  on  the  "  Electric  Telegraph  "  (p.34»)>  the  late  Mr*  Robert 
Sabine  said  :  "  At  the  date  of  the  first  Atlantic  cable  the  engineering 
department  was  far  ahead  of  the  electrical.  The  cable  was  success- 
fully laid— mechanically  good,  but  electrically  bad." 


profound  discouragement.  And,  then,  as  regards  those 
officially  concerned  in  the  enterprise.  What  a  bitter  dis- 
appointment !  Imagine  Charles  Bright's  state  of  mind  after 
all  he  had  gone  through,  and  after  he  had  ultimately  accom- 
plished his  part  of  the  undertaking  with  complete  success. 
In  all  the  experience  of  life  there  are  no  sadder  moments 
than  those  in  which,  after  years  of  anxious  toil,  striving  for 
a  great  object,  and  after  a  glorious  triumph,  the  achieve- 
ment that  seemed  complete  becomes  a  wreck  ! 

Still,  young  Bright  had  the  satisfaction  of  knowing  that 
he  had  (i)  demonstrated  the  possibility  of  laying  over 
2,000  miles1  of  cable  in  one  continuous  length  across  the 
Atlantic  Ocean  at  depths  of  two  to  three  miles  2 ;  and  (2) 
that  by  means  of  an  electric  current,  distinct  and  regular 
signals  could  be  transmitted  and  received  through  an  insu- 
lated conductor — even  when  at  such  a  depth  beneath  the 
sea — across  this  vast  distance.3 

1  This  was  a  length  six  times  greater  than  had  ever  been  previ- 
ously laid,  and  at  an  average  depth  far  in  excess  of  anything  before. 

2  He  had  also  proved,  amongst  other  things,  that  a  ship  could  be 
hove  to  in  deep  water  with  a  cable  hanging  on  without  the  latter 

3  In   his   Presidential  Address   to   the    Institution   of    Electrical 
Engineers,  in  1889,  the  late  Lord  Kelvin  (then  Sir  William  Thomson) 
said,  in  regard  to  the  above  work — 

"  The  first  Atlantic  Cable  gave  me  the  happiness  and  privilege  of  meet- 
ing and  working  with  the  late  Sir  Charles  Bright.  He  was  the  engineer 
of  this  great  undertaking — full  of  vigour,  full  of  enthusiasm.  We  were 
shipmates  on  the  Agamemnon  on  the  ever  memorable  expedition  of  1858, 
during  which  we  were  out  of  sight  of  land  for  thirty-three  days. 
To  Sir  C.  Bright's  vigour,  earnestness,  and  enthusiasm  was  due  the  suc- 
cessful laying  of  the  cable.  We  must  always  feel  deeply  indebted  to  our 
late  colleague  as  the  pioneer  in  that  great  work,  when  other  engineers 
would  not  look  at  it,  and  thought  it  absolutely  impracticable." 


Of  course  the  gutta-percha  coverings,  as  then  applied  in 
those  early  stages  of  submarine  work,1  cannot  in  any  way 
be  compared  to  the  continual  progress  made  in  insulating 
methods  and  materials  during  the  many  years  that  have 
since  elapsed.2  But  in  1856-57  the  Atlantic  Cable  in- 
sulation was  a  great  advance  upon  that  applied  to  the  wires 
of  previous  cables  ;  moreover,  the  conductor  was  a  strand 
of  copper,  and  much  larger  than  anything  before  adopted. 

It  was  to  be  regretted  that  owing  to  the  precipitate  orders 
given  by  the  provisional  committee  of  the  subscribers  to 
the  memorandum  of  association  of  the  Company — before 
even  the  Board  had  been  formed,  or  Charles  Bright  appointed 
engineer — that  his  specification  of  a  conductor  nearly  four 
times  larger  had  not  been  worked  to.3  Bright's  specification 
— had  it  been  acted  on — would  have  given  six  times  the  insu- 
lation, and  more  than  treble  the  conductivity.  Under  such 
conditions  it  is  highly  improbable  that  strong  currents  would 
have  been  applied  for  the  working  of  the  line.  Unhappily 
Professor  Morse  had,  as  we  have  seen,  promulgated  an 
opinion  directly  opposed  to  Charles  Bright's  practical 

1  It  was  thought  by  some  that  the  gutta-percha  had  let  the  water 
percolate  in  at  the  seams,  and  also  that  weak  joints  contributed  to 
the  ultimate  failure  of  the  line. 

2  Submarine  Telegraphs. 

3  As  previously  stated,  this  heavier  type  of  core  was  subsequently 
recommended  to  Government  by  Sir  C.  Bright,  in  1860,  for  the  Fal- 
mouth-Gibraltar    cable,    eventually    used    to    connect    Malta    and 
Alexandria.     It  was  also  specified  by  Bright  for  the  Second  and 
Third  Atlantic  Cables  of  1865  and  1866,  and  duly  adopted,  as  may 
be  seen  further  on. 


Professor  Morse's  views  ran  thus  : — 

That  by  the  use  of  comparatively  small-coated  wires,  and  of 
electro-magnetic  induction  coils  for  the  exciting  magnets,  tele- 
graphic signals  can  be  transmitted  through  two  thousand  miles, 
with  a  speed  amply  sufficient  for  all  commercial  and  economical 

A  similarly  incorrect  theory  was  adopted  even  by  Fara- 
day (the  greatest  electrical  scientist  of  the  day),  who,  in 
a  discussion  on  the  proposed  Atlantic  Cable  at  the  Institu- 
tion of  Civil  Engineers,  stated  "  that  the  larger  the  jar,  or 
the  larger  the  wire,  the  more  electricity  was  required  to 
charge  it ;  and  the  greater  was  the  retardation  of  that  electric 
impulse,  which  should  be  occupied  in  sending  the  charge 
forward,"2  thereby  entirely  disregarding  the  factor  of  con- 
ductor resistance.  The  Company  were  completely  misled 
by  this  and  by  similar  views  entertained  by  Mr.  White- 
house.  And  so  to  a  cable  of  comparatively  small  carrying 
power  and  poor  insulation  was  set  the  task  of  withstanding 
electric  currents  of  an  intensity  that  would  ruin  any  line 
ever  laid,  even  now — fifty  years  later  ! 

The  cable,  inadequately  equipped  as  it  was,  would 
probably  have  worked — though  slowly,  of  course — for 
years,  had  the  battery  power  been  limited  to  that  which  had 
been  previously  employed  on  the  ships  during  the  laying 
operations,  in  connection  with  Professor  Thomson's  highly 
sensitive  mirror  apparatus.  Mr.  Whitehouse,  however, 

1  Report  by  Professor  S.  F.  B.  Morse,  LL.D.,  to  the  Provisional 
Committee  of  the  Atlantic  Telegraph  Company. 

2  Professor  Michael   Faraday  in  Proceedings  of  Inst.    C.E.,   vol. 
xvi.,  p.  221. 


connected  his  battery  to  fearfully  intense  induction  coils  in 
order  to  work  his  specially  devised  relay  and  Morse  electro- 
magnetic recording  instruments  at  the  further  end  of  the 
line.  Moreover,  finding  difficulty  in  getting  his  appliances 
to  act  properly,  he  appears  to  have  increased  the  power 
from  time  to  time,  up  to  nearly  500  cells — of  a  very  potent 
type — during  the  first  week  of  working,  till  the  induction 
coils  about  five  feet  long  yielded  electricity  that  was  esti- 
mated by  the  experts  (who  sat  at  a  sort  of  coroner's  inquest 
on  the  unhappy  cable)  to  have  an  intensity  of  about  2,000 
volts  ! * 

Hence,  when  signalling  was  resumed  by  the  com- 
paratively mild  voltaic  currents,  actuating  Professor 
Thomson's  instrument,  a  fault  (or  faults)  had  been  already 
developed,  necessitating  a  far  higher  battery  power  than 
had  been  employed  during  the  continuous  communication 
between  the  ships  whilst  paying  out.  The  wounds  opened 
further  under  the  various  stimulating  doses  ;  the  insula- 
tion was  unable  to  bear  the  electrical  strain  ;  and  the  circu- 
lation gradually  ceased  through  a  cable  already  in  a  state 
of  dissolution. 

1  The  Story  of  the  Atlantic  Cable. 



SECTION    13 
The  Inquest 

The  great  historical  sea  line  having  collapsed,  some  of 
the  foremost  of  the  electrical  profession  were  called  in  to 
aid,  first  in  determining  the  nature  of  the  interruption,  with 
a  view  to  remedies  if  practicable  ;  then  to  elicit  the  cause. 
Mr.  C.  F.  Varley,1  the  electrician  of  the  Electric  Telegraph 
Company  ;  Mr.  E.  B.  Bright,  Manager  to  the  Magnetic 
Company  ;  and  Mr.  W.  T.  Henley,  the  well-known  tele- 
graph inventor,  were  severally  requested  by  the  "Atlantic" 
Company  to  examine  and  report  in  conjunction  with  Sir 
Charles  Bright  and  Professor  Thomson. 

Resistance  coils  and  apparatus  for  ascertaining  the  posi- 
tion of  the  fault,  patented  by  the  Messrs.  Bright  in  1852— 
as  referred  to  in  Chapter  III — were  employed,  the  result 
being  that  a  serious  leakage  of  electricity  was  indicated 
at  a  distance  of  about  300  miles  from  Valentia.  There  was 
clearly  no  fracture  of  the  conductor,  for  excessively  weak 
currents  still  came  through  in  a  fitful  sort  of  way.  Accord- 
ing to  the  above  location,  the  main  leak  through  the  gutta- 
percha  envelope  was  in  water  of  a  depth  of  about  two  miles. 
At  that  time  means  had  not  been  devised  for  grappling 
and  lifting  a  cable  from  such  depths. 

As  the  result  of  tests  made  independently  by  Charles 
Bright  and  Professor  Thomson,  it  seemed  likely  that  the 

1  About  this  time,  Mr.  Varley  became  electrician  to  the  Atlantic 
Company  in  succession  to  Mr.  Whitehouse,  who  had  retired, 
whilst  Professor  Thomson  still  remained  scientific  adviser  to  the 
Board  of  Directors. 


Valentia  shore  end  was  especially  faulty.  Accordingly,  it 
was  under-run  from  the  catamaran  raft,  previously  used  in 
1857,  f°r  some  three  miles  ;  but  on  being  cut  at  the  furthest 
point  at  which  it  was  found  possible  to  raise  the  cable,  the 
fault  still  appeared  on  the  seaward  side.  The  idea  of 
repairs  had,  therefore,  to  be  abandoned,  and  the  cable  was 
again  spliced  up. 

The  line  being  once  more  intact,  efforts  were  made  to 
renew  signals  by  means  of  a  large  and  improved  magnetic 
telegraph  devised  by  Mr.  Henley,  as  w7ell  as  by  curb  keys 
recently  invented  by  the  Brights.  With  the  latter,  cur- 
rents of  opposite  character,  and  of  given  lengths,  were 
transmitted,  so  that  each  signalling  current  was  followed 
instantly  by  one  of  opposite  polarity,  which  neutralised 
all  that  remained  of  its  predecessor.  The  road  was  thus 
cleared  for  the  succeeding  signal. 

All  efforts,  however,  proved  unavailing  ;  for  signalling 
purposes  the  poor  cable  was  defunct. 

Having  dealt  with  the  nature  of  the  interruption,  we 
now  come  to  the  cause.  It  is  first  of  all  abundantly  clear 
from  the  station  diaries  kept  by  the  electricians  at  Valentia 
and  Newfoundland — as  well  as  by  other  irrefutable  evidence- 
that  when  the  laying  was  completed,  and  the  cable  ends 
were  handed  over  to  them  from  the  ships  on  August  5th, 
all  was  in  good  working  order. 

Thus  :- 

"  On  the  landing  of  the  cable  at  Newfoundland  some  of  them 
'  tasted  '  the  current,  and  received  a  pretty  strong  shock,  so 
strong  that  they  willingly  resigned  the  chance  of  repeating  the 


experiment."  On  the  same  day,  August  5th,  Mr.  Field  telegraphed 
to  the  New  York  Associated  Press  :  "  The  electrical  signals 
sent  through  the  whole  cable  are  perfect."  The  station  diary 
records  the  same.  Again,  on  August  8th,  the  entry  runs  :  "  Good 
signals  being  received  through  the  cable."  On  the  gth,  Mr.  de 
Sauty,  the  electrician,  reports  :  "  Receiving  good,  recorded 
signals  from  Valentia.  Perfectly  satisfactory." 

So  much  for  the  American  end.  On  this  side  it  was  stated 
in  the  papers  on  August  5th,  "  good  signals  passing  to  and  fro." 
Mr.  Whitehouse,  the  chief  electrician,  reports  on  the  6th : 
"  Electric  communication  is  maintained  perfectly."  7th:  ''The 
currents  from  Newfoundland  are  good,  giving  deflections  of  60° 
on  either  side  of  the  galvanometer,  according  as  a  positive  or 
negative  current  is  transmitted. ' '  On  August  ioth,  Mr.  Whitehouse 
telegraphed,  "  rate  of  transmission  fully  equals  that  obtained  at 
Keyham,  and  the  line  works  as  well  as  it  did  before  it  was  laid."  1 

With  reference  to  the  electrical  working  during  laying 
operations,  Mr.  Whitehouse  stated  in  his  evidence  before 
the  Government  Commission  appointed  in  1861  to  enquire 
into  the  construction  of  submarine  cables  :  "  The  signals 
were  very  strong  :  they  made  the  relay  speak  out  loud,  so 
that  you  could  hear  it  across  the  room.  The  battery  power 
employed  at  the  time  at  Newfoundland  was  seven  twelve- 
cell  sawdust  batteries." 

On  board  the  ships  during  the  submersion,  only  moderate 
charges  of  electricity  were  employed  for  signalling — some 
seventy  cells  of  a  very  ordinary,  and  weak,  form  of  voltaic 
battery.  The  use  of  these  was  continued  at  Valentia  after 
landing,  and  worked  the  cable  perfectly,  though  of  course 
slowly  compared  with  overhead  land  wires. 

All  the  eminent  electricians    examined  before  the    pre- 

1  The  Story  of  the  Atlantic  Cable. 


viously  mentioned  Parliamentary  Committee  were  unani- 
mous on  this  point1:—  Mr.  Cromwell  Varley,  F.R.S.,  de- 
clared his  belief  "  that  had  a  more  moderate  power  been 
used,  the  cable  would  still  have  been  capable  of  transmitting 
messages,"  and  that  "  its  faulty  condition  was  no  doubt  due 
to  the  employment  of  large  induction  coils."  Mr.  J.  W. 
Brett  (a  Director)  stated  that  "  the  Board  had  clear  evidence 
that  the  cable  sustained  injury  by  the  use  of  very  great 
power."  Mr.  Glass  "  was  persuaded  that  the  intense 
currents  were  finally  the  cause  of  the  signals  ceasing." 
Professor  Hughes,  the  inventor  of  the  well-known  type- 
printing  telegraph,  declared  that  "  the  cable  was  injured 
by  the  induction  coils,  and  that  the  intense  currents  de- 
veloped by  them  were  strong  enough  to  burst  through 

A  member  of  the  committee  afterwards  inquired  whether 
it  was  the  fact  that  those  who  had  the  misfortune  to  touch 
the  cable  at  the  time  when  the  current  was  discharged  from 
the  induction  coil  received  so  severe  a  shock  from  it  that  they 
nearly  fainted.  It  was  admitted  in  reply,  "  that  those  who 
touched  the  bare  wire  would  suffer  for  their  carelessness, 
though  not,  if  discretion  were  exercised,  in  grasping  the 
gutta-percha  only." 

Professor  Wheatstone  expressed  his  opinion  at  the 
inquiry  in  question  :  "  That  the  force  of  the  induction 
coils  must  have  been  enormously  greater  than  that  of  a 
battery  of  400  elements,  such  as  we  subsequently  employed 
at  Valentia  in  the  later  signalling  efforts."  Further  evidence 
was  given  to  the  same  effect  by  other  experts,  and  the 

1  "  Joint  Commission  on  Submarine  Telegraph  Cables." 


Right  Hon.  J.  Stuart-Wortley,  M.P.,  the  then  Chairman  of 
the  Atlantic  Company,  in  a  deputation  to  Lord  Palmers- 
ton  in  March,  1862,  stated  that  "  far  too  high  charges  of 
electricity  were  forced  into  the  conductor.  It  was  evidently 
thought  at  that  time  by  certain  electricians  that  you  could 
not  charge  a  cable  of  this  sort  too  highly.  Thus,  they 
proceeded  somewhat  like  the  man  who  bores  a  hole  with 
a  poker  in  a  deal  board  :  he  gets  the  hole,  to  be  sure,  but 
the  board  is  burnt  in  the  operation." 

Professor  Thomson  (afterwards  Lord  Kelvin),  writing  in 
1860,  expressed  the  following  opinion  anent  the  use  of 
excessive  power  :— 

The  induction  coils  were  superseded  by  Daniell's  battery 
at  Valentia  after  a  few  days'  trial,  though  the  rapidly  failing 
line  had  seemed  to  prove  them  incapable  of  giving  intelligible 
signals  to  the  Newfoundland  Station.  Owing  to  the  immediate 
introduction  and  continued  use  of  my  mirror  galvanometer 
as  a  receiving  instrument  at  Valentia,  the  signals  from  New- 
foundland were  sufficient  during  the  three  weeks  of  successful 
working  of  the  cable.  It  is  quite  certain  that,  with  a  pro- 
perly-adjusted mirror  galvanometer  at  each  end,  twenty  cells 
of  Daniell's  battery  would  have  done  the  work  required  ;  and 
the  writer  has  little  doubt  that  if  no  induction  coils  and  no  bat- 
tery power  exceeding  the  above  had  ever  been  applied  to  the 
cable  since  the  landing  of  its  ends,  it  would  be  now  in  full  work 
day  and  night,  with  no  prospect,  or  probability,  of  failure.1 

Summing  up  the  cause  of  the  catastrophe  to  the  ill-used 
cable,  it  may  be  said  (in  engineering  parlance)  that  "  high- 
pressure  steam  had  been  got  up  in  a  low-pressure  boiler." 

1  The  Encyclopedia  Britannica,  8th  Edition,  1860.  Article  on 
"  The  Electric  Telegraph,"  by  Professor  W.  Thomson,  F.R.S. 


SECTION    14 
Other  Routes 

It  soon  became  evident  that  no  fresh  venture  would 
take  practical  shape  for  several  years.  Seeing  this,  Sir 
Charles  devoted  himself  to  his  other  professional  work 
connected  with  the  Magnetic  Telegraph  Company,  and 
subsequently  to  the  accomplishment  of  further  cable  enter- 
prises, of  which  the  first  line  to  India  was  the  chief.  This 
—as  will  be  seen  subsequently — was  superintended  and 
laid  by  him,  for  Government,  in  1864. 

It  was  not,  however,  as  it  turned  out,  long  before  he 
became  interested  in  another  big  Atlantic  project.  The 
failure  of  the  first  line  after  a  short  period-  of  working, 
and  the  slow  rate  at  which  messages  were  capable  of  being 
passed  through  its  conductor,  naturally  deterred  capitalists 
from  providing  the  means  for  another  line  of  such  length, 
in  deep  water. 

But  there  was  an  alternative  route  between  this  country 
and  America,  by  which  the  transmission  of  the  electric 
current  could  be  sub-divided  into  four  comparatively 
short  circuits  :  namely— from  the  extreme  north  of  Scotland 
to  the  Faroe  Islands,  thence  to  Iceland,  from  there  to  the 
southern  point  of  Greenland,  and  so  to  Labrador  or  New- 
foundland. Although  this  route  looks  much  longer  on  the 
map,  it  is  not  really  so  ;  and  the  earth's  curvature  is  less 
in  those  northern  regions  than  between  Ireland  and  New- 
foundland. The  distances— varying  a  little  according  to 
landing-places  selected— were  approximately  :— 


From  the  North  of  Scotland  to  Faroe  Islands  .     225 

,,       the  Faroe  Islands  to  Iceland  .          .     280 

Iceland  to  Greenland,  S.W.  Harbour        .     700 

,,       Greenland  to  Labrador  .          .          .     550 

Total     1,755 

From  the  electrician's  point  of  view,  these  sub-divisions 
were  extremely  favourable,  as  compared  with  the  great 
continuous  length  entailed  by  an  Atlantic  cable  between 
Ireland  and  Newfoundland.  Then  again,  the  soundings, 
except  for  a  section  between  Greenland  and  Labrador,  did 
not  yield  anything  approaching  the  more  southern  depths. 

But  against  these  palpable  advantages  there  was  the 
engineering  objection — which  at  first  seemed  insurmountable 
— that  the  Greenland  coast  was  bound  up  by  ice  for  a 
considerable  part  of  the  year,  in  addition  to  the  risk  of 
injury  to  the  cable  from  the  grounding  icebergs.  There 
was  also  the  probable  difficulty  of  obtaining  a  trained 
staff  to  work  a  line  when  laid  to  such  inhospitable  regions. 
Having  regard,  however,  to  the  anxiety  exhibited  by  many 
to  get  to  the  North  Pole,  and  to  remain  for  years  in  the 
coldest  Arctic  regions,  this  did  not  present  an  insuperable 

This  bold  project — with  a  route  across  the  coldest  and 
iciest  regions  of  the  Atlantic— had  been  originally  brought 
to  the  notice  of  the  Danish  Government  by  Mr.  Wyld, 
the  geographer,  even  before  the  Atlantic  Telegraph  Com- 
pany had  been  established.  It  was  reintroduced  in  a 
different  form  by  Colonel  T.  P.  Shaffner,  an  American 
electrician  of  some  note.  Colonel  Shaffner,  who  had  been 


a  pioneer  of  telegraphs  in  the  Western  States,  published 
his  opinion  early  in  1855  against  so  long  a  circuit  as  the 
direct  Atlantic  line  in  the  following  words  :  "  I  do  not 
say  that  a  galvanic,  or  magnetic,  electrical  current  can 
never  be  sent  from  Newfoundland  to  Ireland  ;  but  I  do 
say  that,  with  the  present  discoveries  of  science,  I  do  not 
believe  it  practicable  for  telegraphic  service."1  In  this, 
of  course,  he  proved  to  be .  mistaken ;  nevertheless,  he 
made  a  strong  case  for  the  series  of  short  stages  geographi- 
cally afforded  by  the  North  Atlantic  deviation.  After  the 
1858  cable  had  ceased  working,  to  back  up  his  belief  in  the 
advantages  of  the  route — which  he  characterised  as  having 
"  natural  stepping-stones  which  Providence  had  placed 
across  the  ocean  in  the  North  "  —he  actually  chartered 
a  small  sailing  vessel  ;  and,  with  his  family  on  board,  put 
forth  from  Boston  on  August  2Qth,  1859,  f°r  tne  purpose 
of  making  the  preliminary  survey.  He  landed  at  Glasgow  in 
November  of  that  year  ;  and  there  and  then  presented  to 
the  public  the  results  of  an  arduous  journey  which  so  few 
had  gone  through  up  to  that  time. 

On  the  voyage  Colonel  Shaffner  sounded  the  deep  seas 
to  be  traversed  between  Labrador  and  Greenland,  and 
between  Greenland  and  Iceland.  He  found  a  firm  sup- 
porter in  Mr.  J.  Rodney  Croskey,  of  London,  who  advanced 
the  "  caution  "  money  to  the  Danish  Government  for  the 
concessions  requisite  in  the  Faroes,  Iceland,  and  Green- 

1  The  Story  of  the  Atlantic  Cable. 

2  Mr.  Croskey  also  subsequently  found  the  bulk  of  the  capital 
for  the  exploring  expeditions. 


Colonel  Shaffner  had  been  on  terms  of  friendship  for  some 
years  with  Sir  Charles  Bright  and  his  brother,  who  had 
both  contributed  a  good  deal  to  his  Telegraph  Manual, 
published  in  the  United  States.  Thus,  after  this  prelimi- 
nary work,  he  and  Mr.  Croskey  discussed  the  matter  with 
Sir  Charles,  who  soon  recognised  its  feasibility,  and  entered 
heartily  into  the  project  as  its  technical  adviser. 

The  first  point  was  to  convince  the  public  that  there 
were  no  insuperable  difficulties  in  the  way,  by  further  sur- 
veys and  soundings  of  a  detailed  character,  so  as  to  ascertain 
the  inequalities  of  the  bottom,  as  well  as  the  materials  of 
which  it  was  composed. 

In  the  course  of  the  spring  of  1860,  Colonel  Shaffner 
read  a  paper  on  the  proposed  North  Atlantic  Telegraph  to 
the  members  of  the  Royal  Geographical  Society,  the  result 
being  that  much  assistance  was  offered  by  those  present, 
including  Earl  de  Grey,  Sir  Roderick  Murchison,  and  the 
Secretary,  Dr.  Norton  Shaw.  On  May  I5th,  Lord  Palmers- 
ton  granted  an  audience  to  an  influential  deputation, 
headed  by  the  Right  Hon.  Milner  Gibson,  M.P.,  and  four 
other  members  of  the  House  of  Commons,  to  solicit  the 
assistance  of  Government,  in  sending  out  ships  and  officers 
to  make  the  necessary  official  survey,  for  ascertaining  the 
practicability  of  the  proposed  route.  The  Premier  appeared 
to  fully  appreciate  the  advantages  of  the  north-about 
scheme,  and  in  a  short  time  the  Admiralty  were  directed 
to  despatch  an  expedition  for  the  purpose  of  making  the 
requisite  survey.  The  Admiralty  selected  for  this  duty 
Captain  McClintock,  R.N.,1  an  officer  of  great  experience 

1  Later  Admiral  Sir  Leopold  McClintock,  K.C.B.,  LL.D.,  F.R.S; 


in  the  navigation  of  the  Arctic  seas,  and  H.M.S.  Bulldog 
was  placed  under  his  command.  This  distinguished  officer 
was  directed  to  take  the  deep-sea  soundings,  and  he  sailed 
from  Portsmouth  on  his  mission  in  June,  1860.  In  the  mean- 
time, the  promoters  of  the  enterprise  purchased  the  Fox— 
the  steam  yacht  formerly  employed  in  the  search  for  Frank- 
lin— and  fitted  her  out  with  a  view  to  making  surveys 
of  the  proposed  landing-places.  The  Fox  was  placed 
under  the  command  of  Captain  Young,1  of  the  mercantile 
marine,  an  officer  well  known  for  his  distinguished  labours 
under  McClintock  in  the  Franklin  search.  At  the  same  time, 
Dr.  John  Rae,  an  intrepid  Arctic  explorer,  volunteered 
his  services  to  join  the  Fox,  in  charge  of  the  overland 
expeditions  in  the  Faroe  Isles,  Iceland,  and  Greenland. 
Colonel  Shaffner,  as  concessioner,  also  accompanied  the 
Fox  expedition,  to  take  part  in  the  surveys. 

Before  the  departure  of  the  Fox,  which  sailed  on  July 
i8th,  1860,  Her  Majesty  the  Queen,  the  Prince  Consort,  and 
other  members  of  the  Royal  Family  honoured  the  enter- 
prise by  a  visit  to  that  vessel,  while  lying  off  Osborne,  and 
showed  a  lively  interest  in  the  details  of  the  expedition. 
After  the  royal  visit,  Sir  Charles  Bright,  with  other  pro- 
moters and  friends,  saw  the  party  off  with  many  hearty 
good  wishes. 

On  the  return  of  the  expedition,  Sir  Leopold  McClintock 
reported  to  Sir  Charles,  favouring  the  route  as  perfectly 
practicable,  pointing  out  that  the  ice  would  not  really 
prove  a  difficulty,  and  strongly  approving  of  the  original 
intention  of  a  land  line  across  Iceland  to  Faxe  Bay,  "  as 

1  Now  Sir  Allen  Young,  C.B. 


by  so  doing  you  will  avoid  the  only  part  of  the  sea  where 
submarine  volcanic  disturbances  may  be  suspected." 

The  results  of  the  voyages  of  H.M.S.  Bulldog  and  the 
steam-yacht  Fox  were  brought  before  a  crowded  meeting  of 
the  Royal  Geographical  Society  on  January  28th,  1861,  when 
Sir  Leopold  McClintock  gave  the  first  public  account  of  his 
submarine  survey  along,  and  in  the  vicinity  of,  the  proposed 
course  of  the  cable.  Then  followed  an  exhaustive  paper  by 
Sir  Charles  Bright,  giving  a  synopsis  of  Captain  Young's 
report  on  his  voyage  in  the  Fox — including  the  examination 
of  various  estuaries  and  harbours — so  as  to  enable  a  decision 
to  be  arrived  at  as  to  the  best  landing-places,  the  climatic 
conditions,  etc.  From  both  sets  of  soundings  it  was  shown 
that,  as  a  rule,  the  bottom  was  of  ooze.  Dr.  Wallich,  the 
naturalist  of  the  expedition,  had  brought  up  brightly 
coloured  star-fish  from  depths  of  over  a  mile,  whereas  it 
had  previously  been  believed  that  nothing  could  possibly 
live  under  such  an  enormous  pressure  of  water.  In  con- 
cluding his  paper,  Sir  Charles  made  the  following  remarks  :— 

Having  thus  presented  to  the  Society  some  of  the  most  valu- 
able and  interesting  portions  of  Captain  Young's  report,  I  have 
only  to  observe  that  the  result  of  the  recent  survey  has  been  to 
remove  from  my  mind  the  apprehensions— which  I  previously 
entertained  in  common  with  many  others — as  to  the  extent  and 
character  of  the  difficulties  to  be  overcome  in  carrying  a  line  of 
telegraph  to  America  by  the  northern  route. 

Prior  to  the  despatch  of  the  surveying  expedition,  we  had  no 
knowledge  of  the  depth  of  the  seas  to  be  crossed,  with  the  excep- 
tion of  the  few  soundings  obtained  by  Colonel  Shaffner  in  1859, 
and  our  information  as  to  the  nature  of  the  shores  of  Greenland 
in  regard  to  the  requirements  of  a  telegraphic  cable  was  equally 


These  points  are  of  vital  importance  to  the  prospects  of  the 
North  Atlantic  route,  and  the  survey  has  placed  us  in  possession 
of  satisfactory  particulars  respecting  them.  The  soundings 
taken  by  Sir  Leopold  McClintock  will  be  a  guide  in  the  selection 
of  the  most  suitable  form  for  the  deep-sea  lengths  of  the  cable, 
while  the  data  furnished  by  Captain  Young  will  direct  the  con- 
struction of  the  more  massive  cables  to  be  laid  in  the  inlets  of 
the  coast. 

It  is  not  necessary  to  determine  upon  the  precise  landing-places, 
and  other  details  in  connection  with  the  enterprise,  at  the  present 
time.  But  the  promoters  of  the  undertaking  have  received 
ample  encouragement  from  the  survey  to  warrant  them  in  pro- 
ceeding with  their  labours  with  renewed  vigour  and  confidence. 
When  they  have  achieved  that  success  which  their  perseverance 
and  energy  deserve,  I  am  sure  they  will  always  gratefully  remem- 
ber that  their  endeavours  at  the  stage  of  their  operations  which 
is  now  under  discussion  would  have  been  very  much  less  produc- 
tive of  good  results  but  for  the  patriotic  foresight  of  Lord  Pal- 
merston  in  ordering  the  Bulldog  on  her  late  successful  service. 
We  must  also  be  most  thankful  for  the  assistance  of  Sir  Leopold 
McClintock,  Captain  Young,  Dr.  Rae,  and  the  Commissioner 
appointed  to  accompany  the  Fox  by  the  Danish  Government, 
whose  patience  and  devotion  to  their  self-imposed  work  has  been 
beyond  all  praise.  Nor  can  those  interested  in  this  important 
undertaking  forget  the  great  help  rendered  to  them  by  the  Royal 
Geographical  Society.1 

Then  came  a  highly  instructive  paper  by  Dr.  Rae.  He 
gave  a  number  of  interesting  particulars  of  his  land  surveys, 
the  population,  price  of  food,  wages,  etc.  He  also  described 
the  ride  of  the  Fox  party  across  Iceland,  whilst  making 
important  suggestions  as  to  the  route  for  the  land  line 
with  a  view  to  avoiding  the  geysers.  These  papers  were 

1  Bright's  paper,  as  above,  is  given  in  full  in  Appendix  12  to 
Vol.  I.  of  the  original  biography. 


followed  at  the  next  meeting  of  the  Geographical  Society  by 
an  exhaustive  discussion,  at  which  Lord  Ashburton,  Admiral 
Sir  Edward  Belcher,  Captain  (afterwards  Rear-Admiral) 
Sherard  Osborn,  R.N.,  C.B.,  Mr.  John  Ball,  F.R.S.,  and 
various  gentlemen  of  Arctic  expedition  fame,  spoke  favour- 
ably of  the  project.1 

At  this  time,  however  (1861),  there  was  still  too  much 
discouragement  owing  to  the  stoppage  in  working  of  the 
first  Atlantic  cable,  and  the  yet  more  disastrous  failure 
of  the  Red  Sea  and  Indian  lines,  besides  the  loss  of  other 
cables  in  the  Mediterranean.  Moreover,  there  were  those 
who  continued  to  fear  the  ice-floes  ;  and  in  the  end,  the 
public  did  not  respond  sufficiently.  Thus,  after  all,  what 
came  to  be  styled  the  "  Grand  North  Atlantic  Telegraph" 
project — which  had  been  worked  out  with  so  much  trouble 
and  expense — was  never  actually  realised. 

Another  scheme  which  attracted  some  attention  about 
the  same  time  was  described  as  the  "  South  Atlantic  Tele- 
graph." This  was  for  a  very  long  length  of  cable  between  the 
south  of  Spain  and  the  coast  of  Brazil,  touching  at  Madeira, 
the  Canary  Islands,  Cape  de  Verde  Isles,  Don  Pedro  and 
Fernando  de  Noronha  Island  on  the  way — and  stretching 
out  to  the  West  Indies  and  the  United  States. 

Then  there  was  a  project — concerning  which  Sir  Charles 
was  also  consulted — for  a  cable  on  an  intermediate  route 

1  It  was  here  that  Sir  William  Fothergill  Cooke  took  occasion 
to  express  the  pride  he  felt  in  Sir  Charles  having  been — so  to  speak— 
a  pupil  of  his  ;  and  he  expressed  himself  similarly  at  various  times 
in  public. 


from  Portugal  to  the  Azores,  and  thence  to  America,  via 
Bermuda  and  the  Southern  States. 

Being,  however,  to  a  great  extent  foreign  in  their  scope, 
these  latter  schemes  found  little  favour  with  those  in  our 
country  who  were  by  way  of  promoting  such  enterprises.1 

The  1865  and  1866  Cables* 

Though  their  cables  had  ceased  to  work,  the  Atlantic 
Company  was  kept  afloat  by  the  promoters,  whilst  Mr. 
Lampson  as  vice-chairman,  and  Mr.  Sawrard  as  secretary, 
were  doing  all  that  could  be  done  to  keep  its  objects  con- 
stantly before  the  public,  in  the  hopes  of  raising  fresh  funds.3 

In  1862  the  Government  were  prevailed  on  to  despatch 
H.M.S.  Porcupine  to  further  examine  the  ocean  floor  300 
miles  out  from  the  coasts  of  Ireland  and  Newfoundland 

It  took  a  considerable  time  to  get  together  the  full  amount 
of  capital  required  for  another  Atlantic  cable  ;  this,  indeed, 
could  only  be  done  gradually.  The  great  civil  war  in  America 
stimulated  capitalists  to  renew  the  undertaking.  One  of 
the  main  advantages  adduced  was — on  this  occasion,  as 

1  Submarine  Telegraphs. 

2  It   should   be  observed    that  a   considerable   interval   of   time 
occurred  between  the  events  just  dealt  with  and  those  forming  the 
subject  of  the  present  section  of  this  chapter.     It  was  thought  best 
to  depart  from  order  of  date  here  and  tell  the  story  of  early  Atlantic 
Telegraphy  in  a  consecutive  manner.     The  intervening  period   is 
accounted  for,   so  far  as   our   object  is  concerned,    in  subsequent 

3  Submarine  Telegraphs. 


before — the  avoidance  of  misunderstandings  between  the 
two  countries.  Another — intended  by  Mr.  Cyrus  Field  as 
a  special  inducement  to  his  fellow-countrymen — was  the 
improvement  of  the  agricultural  position  of  the  United 
States,  by  extending  to  it  the  facilities,  already  enjoyed  by 
France,  of  commanding  the  foreign  grain  markets.  On  this 
account,  the  project  was  warmly  supported  by  the  Right 
Honourable  John  Bright,  M.P.,  and  other  eminent  "  Free 

Mr.  Field,  however,  met  with  as  little  success  in  obtaining 
pecuniary  support  in  the  States  as  he  had  in  connection  with 
the  previous  line.  His  brother,  Mr.  H.  M.  Field,  writes  :— 

The  summer  of  this  year  (1862)  Mr.  Field  spent  in  America, 
where  he  applied  himself  vigorously  to  raising  capital  for  the 
new  enterprise.  To  this  end  he  visited  Boston,  Providence, 
Philadelphia,  Albany,  and  Buffalo,  to  address  meetings  of  mer- 
chants and  others.  He  used  to  amuse  us  with  the  account  of  his 
visit  to  the  first  city,  where  he  was  honoured  with  the  attendance 
of  a  large  array  of  "  the  solid  men  of  Boston,"  who  listened 
with  an  attention  that  was  most  flattering  to  the  pride  of  the 
speaker  addressing  such  an  assemblage  in  the  capital  of  his  native 

There  was  no  mistaking  the  interest  they  felt  in  the  subject. 
They  went  still  further  ;  they  passed  a  series  of  resolutions,  in 
which  they  applauded  the  projected  telegraph  across  the  ocean 
as  one  of  the  grandest  enterprises  ever  undertaken  by  man, 
which  they  proudly  commended  to  the  confidence  and  support 
of  the  American  public.  After  this  they  went  home  feeling 
that  they  had  done  the  generous  thing  in  bestowing  upon  it  such 
a  mark  of  their  approbation.  But  not  a  man  subscribed  a  dollar  ! 

In  point  of  fact,  as  before,  the  cable  of  1865— as  well  as 
that  of  1866 — was  provided  for  out  of  English  pockets.  Let 


us  now  substantiate  this  statement  by  a  cursory  glance  at 
events.  Mr.  Thomas  Brassey,  M.P.,  was  the  first  to  be 
appealed  to  in  this  country,  and  he  supported  the  venture 
nobly.  Then  Mr.  Fender  *  was  applied  to,  and  here  also 
substantial  aid  was  forthcoming.  Both  these  gentlemen 
had  joined  the  Board  of  the  Telegraph  Construction  and 
Maintenance  Company  which  had  just  been  formed  (in 
April,  1864),  as  the  result  of  amalgamation  of  the  Gutta- 
Percha  Co.  and  Messrs.  Glass,  Elliot  &  Co. 

Shortly  after  the  first  Atlantic  cable  was  laid,  Messrs. 
Glass,  Elliot  &  Co.  availed  themselves  of  the  services  of 
Mr.  Canning  and  Mr.  Clifford,  whose  engagements  on  Charles 
Bright 's  staff  for  the  "  Atlantic  "  Company  had  ceased. 
Thus,  with  an  additional  staff  of  electricians,  they  had 
placed  themselves  in  a  position  to  undertake  direct  contracts 
for  laying,  as  well  as  manufacturing,  submarine  telegraphs. 
They  had,  indeed,  carried  out  work  of  this  character  in  the 
Mediterranean  during  the  year  1860  ;  and  on  the  amalgama- 
tion of  the  two  businesses  above  mentioned  into  a  limited 
liability  company, their  position  was  still  further  strengthened. 

The  capital  raised  for  the  new  cable  by  the  Atlantic  Tele- 
graph Company  was  /6oo,ooo  ;  and  by  agreeing  to  take  a 
considerable  proportion  of  their  payment  in  "  Atlantic  " 
shares,  the  contractors,  now  the  Telegraph  Construction 
Company,2  practically  found  more  than  half  of  this  amount. 
It  will  be  seen  that  the  new  cable  was  to  be  an  expensive 
one  as  compared  with  that  of  1857-58.  It  was  the  outcome 

1  Afterwards  Sir  John  Fender,   G.C.M.G.,  M.P. 
1  This  firm  had  previously  (as  Glass,  Elliot  &  Co.)  been  selected 
to  undertake  the  entire  work. 


of  six  years'  further  experience,  during  which  several  im- 
portant lines — dealt  with  in  subsequent  pages — had  been 
laid.  It  also  followed  upon  the  exhaustive  Government 
inquiry  already  alluded  to. 

The  actual  type,  adopted  on  the  recommendation  of  Sir 
Charles  Bright,  was  much  the  same  in  respect  to  the  con- 
ductor and  insulator  l  as  that  which  Sir  Charles  had  sug- 
gested for  the  previous  Atlantic  line,  on  which  occasion,  it 
will  be  remembered,  his  recommendation  was  not  followed. 
The  armour  provided  for  the  present  insulated  and  yarn- 

served  heart,  or  core,  was  precisely  similar  to  Sir  Charles' 
Government  specification  of  May,  1859,  ^or  the  proposed 
cable  from  Falmouth  to  Gibraltar.  It  consisted  of  a  com- 
bination of  iron  and  hemp,  each  wire  being  enveloped  in 
manilla  yarns.  The  object  of  encasing  the  separate  wires 
in  hemp  was  (i)  to  protect  them  from  rust  due  to  exposure 
to  air  and  water,  and  (2)  to  reduce  the  specific  gravity  of 

1  300  lb.  copper  to  400  Ib.  gutta-percha  per  nautical  mile.  Bright 
was  also  specially  consulted  regarding  the  estimates,  besides  draw- 
ing up  the  specification. 


the  cable,  with  a  view  to  rendering  it  more  capable  of  sup- 
porting its  own  weight  in  water.  This  form  of  cable- 
bearing  a  stress  of  about  eight  tons  l — was  considered  by 
most  of  the  authorities  at  that  period  to  perfectly  fulfil  the 
conditions  required  for  deep-sea  lines.2 

It  was  determined  that  this  time  the  cable  must  be  laid 
in  one  length  (with  the  exception  of  the  shore  ends),  by  a 
single  vessel.3  There  was  but  one  ship  that  could  carry  such 
a  cargo.  This  ship  was  the  Great  Eastern — the  conception 
of  that  distinguished  engineer,  Isambard  Kingdom  Brunei. 
She  was  in  course  of  construction,  by  the  late  Mr.  Scott 
Russell,  at  the  time  of  the  first  cable,  and  Charles  Bright 
had  joined  with  Brunei  in  his  regrets  that  she  wras  not  then 
available.  An  enormous  craft  of  22,500  tons,  she  did  not 
prove  suitable  at  that  time  as  a  cargo  boat  ;  and  the  laying 
of  the  second  Atlantic  cable  was  the  first  piece  of  useful 
work  she  did,  after  lying  more  or  less  idle  for  nearly  ten  years. 
It  is  sad  to  think  of  the  way  this  poor  old  ship  wras  metaphori- 
cally passed  from  hand  to  hand.  Even  at  this  period,  three 
separate  companies  had  already  been  formed  one  after 
another  to  work  her.  As  promoter  and  chairman  of  one 

L  The  increased  breaking  strain  here  afforded  over  that  of  the 
first  Atlantic  line  was  partly  due  to  the  great  improvements  made 
in  the  manufacture  of  iron  wire  during  the  interval. 

2  Experience  has  since  taught  us,  however,  that  such  a  type  lacks 
durability,  owing  to  the  rapid  decay  of  the  hemp  between  the  iron 
wires  and  the  sea.     When  the  hemp  has  once  decayed  a  bundle   of 
loose  wires  are  left,  wrhich  by  exposure  all  round  soon  become  seri- 
ously reduced  and  weakened.     Moreover,  this    pattern  was    found 
afterwards  to  be  unsuitable  on  account  of  a  broken  wire  being  liable 
to  stab  the  insulation — an  accident  which  could  scarcely  happen  to 
a  close-sheathed  type. 

3  The  Story  of  the  Atlantic  Cable. 


of  these,  Mr.  Gooch,  C.E.  (afterwards  Sir  Daniel  Gooch, 
Bart.,  M.P.),  took  an  active  part  in  arranging  that  she  should 
be  chartered  for  this  undertaking.  Hence  it  was  that  he 
became  a  prominent  party  in  the  enterprise,  with  a  seat  on 
the  Board  of  the  Telegraph  Construction  Company. 

In  main  principles,  the  apparatus  for  paying  out  the  cable 
was  similar  to  that  previously  adopted  on  the  Agamemnon 
and  Niagara.1  There  were,  however,  several  modifications 
introduced,  as  the  result  of  the  extra  experience  gained 
during  the  seven  years'  interval.  The  main  point  of  differ- 
ence was  the  further  application  of  jockeys,  in  a  more  com- 
plete form.  All  the  machinery  for  the  present  undertaking 
was  constructed  and  set  up  by  the  famous  firm  of  engineers, 
Messrs.  John  Penn  &  Son,  of  Greenwich. 

As  soon  as  the  full  length  of  cable  had  been  manufac- 
tured, and  shipped  from  the  Greenwich  Works,  the  Great 
Eastern,  under  the  command  of  Captain  (afterwards  Sir 
James)  Anderson,2  left  the  Thames  on  July  23rd,  1865,  and 
proceeded  to  Foilhommerum  Bay,  Valentia.  Here  she 
joined  up  her  cable  to  the  shore  end  3  which  had  been  laid 

1  This  general  similarity  is  referred  to  in  the  complete  account 
of  the  1865  and  1866  machinery,  given  by  Mr.  Elliot  (afterwards 
Sir  George  Elliot,  Bart,,  M.P.)  in  the  course  of  a  paper  read  before 
the  Institution  of  Mechanical  Engineers  in  1867. 

2  Captain  Anderson  had  the  reputation  of  possessing  great  skill 
in  the  handling  of  a  ship.     He  was  at  the  time  in  the  service  of  the 
Cunard  Steamship   Company,  by   whose  permission   he  joined    the 

3  This— somewhere  near  thirty  miles  in  length— had  been  made 
by  Mr.  W.  T.  Henley,  of  North  Woolwich.     It  had  an  additional 
outer  sheathing  of  iron  strands,  each  strand  being  composed  of  three 
stout  wires,   bringing  the  weight  up   to  as  much  as  twenty  tons 
per  mile. 


a  day  earlier  by  s.s.  Caroline,  a  small  vessel  chartered  and 
fitted  up  for  the  purpose.  The  great  ship  then  started 
paying  out  as  she  steamed  away  on  her  journey  to  America, 
escorted  by  two  British  men-of-war,  the  Terrible  and  the 

On  behalf  of  the  contractors — the  Telegraph  Construction 
and  Maintenance  Company — Mr.  (now  Sir  Samuel)  Canning 
was  the  Engineer  in  charge,  with  Mr.  Henry  Clifford  as  his 
chief  assistant.  As  we  have  seen,  both  these  gentlemen 
had  been  engaged  with  Sir  Charles  Bright  on  the  first  Atlantic 
expedition,  and  had  had  much  experience,  alike  in  cable 
work  and  mechanical  engineering.  There  was  also  on  the 
engineering  staff  of  the  contractors,  Mr.  John  Temple 
(formerly  Bright's  secretary  and  assistant  engineer),  as  well 
as  Mr.  Robert  London.  Mr.  C.  V.  de  Sauty  served  as  chief 
electrician,  assisted  by  Mr.  H.  A.  C.  Saunders,  and  several 
others.  By  arrangement  with  the  Admiralty,  Staff-Com- 
mander H.  A.  Moriarty,  R.N.,  again  acted  as  the  navigator 
of  the  expedition.  Captain  Moriarty  was  possessed  of  great 
skill  in  that  direction — a  fact  which  had  been  made  clear 
in  the  previous  undertakings. 

Though  acting  as  Consulting  Engineer  to  this  enterprise, 
Sir  Charles  Bright  did  not  accompany  the  expedition.  As 
will  be  seen  in  a  subsequent  chapter,  he  was  at  the  time  deeply 
engaged  in  political  matters.  Indeed,  his  visits  to  Green- 
wich had  been  of  late  largely  associated  with  the  General 
Election.  These  visits  terminated  in  his  being  returned 
for  that  borough  ;  but  the  Atlantic  Telegraph  Company  was 
represented  on  board  by  Professor  Thomson  and  Mr.  C.  F. 
Varley,  as  electricians,  the  former  acting  mainly  as  scientific 


expert  in  a  consultative  sense.  Both  Mr.  Field  and  Mr. 
Gooch  accompanied  the  expedition,  the  former  as  promoter 
of  the  scheme,  and  the  latter  on  behalf  of  the  Great  Eastern 
Company.  Representing  the  Press,  there  were  also  on 
board  Dr.  W.  H.  Russell,1  the  well-known  correspondent 
of  The  Times,  as  the  historian  of  the  enterprise  ;  and  Mr. 
Robert  Dudley,  an  artist  of  repute,  who  produced  several 
excellent  pictures  of  the  work  in  its  different  stages,  as  well 
as  articles  for  the  Illustrated  London  News. 

Inasmuch  as  Bright  was  not  on  board,  a  detailed  account 
of  the  trip  is  not  attempted  here.  It  suffices  to  say  that 
several  mishaps  occurred  during  the  laying.  A  number 
of  unsuccessful  attempts  were  made  to  recover  the  cable 
after  it  had  been  broken  in  deep  water  when  endeavour- 
ing to  haul  back  a  fault.  Ultimately  the  ships  had  to 
return  home,  on  August  nth,  without  completing  their 

Second  and  Successful  Attempt,  1866.— The  results  of  the 
last  expedition,  disastrous  as  they  were  from  a  financial 
point  of  view,  in  no  wise  abated  the  courage  of  the  pro- 
moters. During  the  heaviest  weather  the  Great  Eastern 
had  shown  exceptional  "  stiffness  "  ;  whilst  her  great  size 
and  manoeuvring  power  (afforded  by  the  screw  and  paddles 
combined)  seemed  to  show  her  to  be  the  very  type  of  vessel 
for  the  kind  of  work  in  hand.  The  newly-designed  picking- 
up  gear,  it  was  true,  had  proved  insufficient  ;  but  with  the 
paying-out  machinery  no  serious  fault  was  to  be  found. 

1  Later  Sir  William  Howard  Russell,  LL.D. 


The  feasibility  of  grappling  in  mid- Atlantic  had  been  de- 
monstrated, and  they  had  gone  far  towards  proving  the 
possibility  of  recovering  the  cable  from  similar  depths. 

The  Atlantic  Telegraph  Company  was  amalgamated  with 
a  new  concern,  the  Anglo-American  Telegraph  Company, 
which  was  formed,  mainly  by  those  interested  in  the  older 
business,  with  the  object  of  raising  fresh  capital  for  the  new 
and  double  ventures  of  1866.  The  ultimate  capital  of  this 
Company  amounted  (as  before)  to  £600,000.  In  raising  this, 
Mr.  Field  first  secured  the  support  of  Mr.  (afterwards  Sir 
Daniel)  Gooch,  M.P.,  chairman  of  the  Great  Western  Rail- 
way Company,  who  promised,  if  necessary,  to  subscribe 
as  much  as  £20,000.  On  the  same  conditions,  Mr.  Brassey 
expressed  his  willingness  to  bear  one-tenth  of  the  total  cost 
of  the  undertaking.  Ultimately,  the  Telegraph  Construc- 
tion Company  led  off  with  £100,000,  this  amount  being 
followed  by  the  signatures  of  ten  directors  interested  in  the 
contract  (as  guarantors)  at  £10,000  apiece.  Then  there 
were  four  subscriptions  of  £5,000,  and  some  of  £2,500  to 
£1,000,  principally  from  firms  participating  in  one  shape 
or  another  in  the  sub-contracts.  These  sums  were  all 
subscribed  before  even  the  prospectus  was  issued,  or  the 
books  opened  to  the  public.  The  remaining  capital  soon 
followed.  The  Telegraph  Corstruction  Company,  in  under- 
taking the  entire  work  as  contractors,  were  to  receive 
£500,000  for  the  new  cable  in  any  case  ;  and  if  it  succeeded, 
an  extra  £100,000.  If  both  cables  came  into  effective  opera- 
tion, the  total  amount  payable  to  them  was  to  be  £737,140- 

It  was  now  proposed  not  only  to  lay  a  new  cable  between 
Ireland  and  Newfoundland,  but  also  to  repair  and  complete 


the  one  lying  at  the  bottom  of  the  sea.  A  length  of  1,600 
miles  of  cable  was  ordered  from  the  contractors.  Thus, 
with  the  unexpended  cable  from  the  last  expedition,  the 
total  length  available  when  the  expedition  started  would 
be  2,730  miles,  of  which  1,960  miles  were  allotted  to  the 
new  cable,  and  697  to  complete  the  old  one,  leaving  113 
miles  as  a  reserve.  The  new  main  cable  was  similar  to  that 
of  the  year  before.  The  shore-end  type  determined  on 


in  this  case  was  of  a  different  description.  It  had  only  one 
sheathing,  consisting  of  twelve  contiguous  iron  wires  of 
great  individual  surface  and  weight ;  and  outside  all  a  cover- 
ing of  tarred  hemp  and  compound.  The  part  of  this  cable 
which  was  intended  for  shallow  depths  was  made — in 
accordance  with  Bright's  recommendation  —  in  three 
different  types.  Starting  from  the  coast  of  Ireland,  eight 
miles  of  the  heaviest  was  to  be  laid,  then  eight  miles  of  the 


intermediate,  and  lastly  fourteen  miles  of  the  lightest  type, 
making  thirty  miles  of  shoal- water  cable  on  the  Irish  side. 
Five  miles  of  shallow-water  cable  of  the  different  types  named 
were  considered  sufficient  on  the  Newfoundland  coast. 

For  the  purpose  of  grappling  the  1865  cable,  twyenty  miles 
of  rope  were  manufactured,  which  was  constituted  of  forty- 


nine  iron  wires,  separately  covered  with  manilla  hemp. 
Six  wires  so  served  were  laid  up  strand-wise  round  a  seventh, 
which  formed  the  heart,  or  core,  of  the  rope.  This  rope 
would  stand  a  longitudinal  stress  of  thirty  tons  before 
breaking.  In  addition,  five  miles  of  buoy  rope  were  pro- 
vided, besides  buoys  of  different  shapes  and  sizes,  the  largest 


of  which  would  support  a  weight  of  twenty  tons.  As  on 
the  previous  expedition,  several  kinds  of  grapnels  were 
put  on  board — some  of  the  ordinary  sort,  and  some  with 
springs  to  prevent  the  cable  surging  and  thus  escaping 
whilst  the  grapnel  was  still  dragging  on  the  bottom  :  others, 
again,  were  fashioned  like  pincers,  to  hold  (or  jam)  the 
cable  when  raised  to  a  required  height,  or  else  to  cut  it  only, 
and  so  take  off  a  large  proportion  of  the  strain  previous  to 
picking  up.1 

The  testing  arrangements  had  been  perfected  by  Mr. 
Willoughby  Smith  in  such  a  way  that  insulation  readings 
could  be  continuously  observed,  even  whilst  measuring  the 
copper  resistance,  or  while  exchanging  signals  with  Valentia. 
Thus  there  was  no  longer  any  danger  of  a  fault  being  paid 
overboard  without  instant  detection.  On  this  occasion, 
also,  condensers  were  applied  to  the  receiving  end  of  the 
cable,  having  the  effect  of  very  materially  increasing  the 
working  speed. 

On  June  30 th,  1866,  the  Great  Eastern — steaming  from 
the  Thames,  followed  by  the  Medway  and  Albany — arrived 
at  Valentia,  where  H.M.S.  Terrible  and  Racoon  were  found, 
under  orders  to  accompany  the  expedition.  The  Medway  had 
on  board  forty-five  miles  of  deep-sea  cable  in  addition  to 
the  American  shore-end. 

The  principal  members  of  the  staff  acting  on  behalf  of 
the  contractors  in  this  expedition  were  the  same  as  in  that 
of  the  previous  year  :  Mr.  Canning  was  again  in  charge,  with 
Mr.  Clifford  and  Mr.  Temple  as  his  chief  assistants.  In  the 
electrical  department,  however,  the  Telegraph  Construction 
1  Submarine  Telegraphs. 


Company  had  since  secured  the  services  of  Mr.  Willoughby 
Smith  as  their  chief  electrician,  whilst  he  still  acted  in  that 
capacity  at  the  Wharf  Road  Gutta-Percha  Works.  Mr. 
Smith,  therefore,  accompanied  the  expedition  as  chief  elec- 
trician to  the  contractors.  Captain  James  Anderson  and 
Staff-Commander  H.  A.  Moriarty,  R.N.,  were  once  more 
to  be  seen  on  board  the  great  ship,  the  former  as  her  cap- 
tain, and  the  latter  as  navigating  officer.  Professor  Thom- 
son was  aboard  as  consulting  electrical  adviser  to  the  Atlantic 
Telegraph  Company,1  whilst  Mr.  C.  F.  Varley  was  ashore 
at  Valentia  as  their  electrician.  Sir  Charles  Bright  was  at 
this  period  serving  on  certain  committees  of  the  House  of 
Commons,  as  alluded  to  further  on  ;  but  his  partner,  Mr. 
Latimer  Clark,  took  up  his  quarters  on  board  to  person- 
ally represent  the  firm  of  Bright  and  Clark  as  consulting 
engineers  to  the  Anglo-American  Telegraph  Company,  Mr. 
J.  C.  Laws  and  Mr.  Richard  Collett  being  respectively 
at  the  Valentia  and  Newfoundland  ends  representing  the 
same  firm.  Mr.  Glass,  the  managing  director  of  the  Tele- 
graph Construction  Company,  was  ashore  at  Valentia  for 
the  purpose  of  giving  any  instructions  to  his  (the  con- 
tractor's) staff  on  the  ship,  whilst  Mr.  Gooch  and  Mr.  Field 
were  on  board  the  Great  Eastern  as  onlookers  and  watchers 
of  their  individual  interests. 

On  July  yth  the  William  Cory — commonly  known  as  the 
Dirty  Billy — landed  the  shore  end  in  Foilhommerum  Bay, 
and  afterwards  laid  out  twenty-seven  miles  of  the  inter- 
mediate cable.  On  the  I3th,  the  Great  Eastern  took  the  end 

1  Though  financially  wrapped  up  with  the  new  "  Anglo  "  Com- 
pany, the  "  Atlantic  "  continued  in  existence  till  as  late  as  1874. 


on  board,  and,  having  spliced  on  to  her  cable  aboard, 
started  paying  out.  The  track  followed  was  parallel  to 
that  of  the  year  before,  but  about  twenty-seven  miles 
further  north.  There  were  two  instances  of  fouls  in  the 
tank.  These  were  both  due  to  broken  wires  catching 
neighbouring  turns  and  flakes,  and  thus  drawing  up  a 
whole  bundle  of  cable  in  an  apparently  inextricable  mass 
of  kinks  quite  close  to  the  brake  drum.  In  each  case  the 
ship  was  promptly  got  to  a  standstill,  and  all  hands  set  to 
unravelling  the  tangle.  With  a  certain  amount  of  luck, 
neither  accident  ended  fatally  ;  and,  after  straightening 
out  the  wire  as  far  as  possible,  paying  out  was  resumed. 
Fourteen  days  after  starting,  the  Great  Eastern  arrived  off 
Heart's  Content,  Trinity  Bay,  where  the  Medway  joined  on 
and  landed  the  shore-end,  thus  bringing  to  a  successful 
conclusion  this  part  of  the  expedition.  The  total  length 
of  cable  laid  was  1,852  nautical  miles,  average  depth  1,400 
fathoms.  After  much  rejoicing1  during  the  coaling  of  the 
Great  Eastern,  the  Telegraph  Fleet  once  more  put  to  sea,  on 
August  9th. 

Recovery  and  Completion  of  1865  Cable. — It  now  remained 
to  find  the  end  of  the  cable  lost  on  August  2nd,  1865,  situated 
about  604  miles  from  Newfoundland,  to  pick  it  up,  splice 

1  These  rejoicings  were  at  first  somewhat  dampened  by  the  fact 
that  the  cable  between  Newfoundland  and  Cape  Breton  (Nova 
Scotia)  still  remained  interrupted,  and  that  consequently  the  entire 
telegraphic  system  was  not  even  now  complete.  However,  in  the 
course  of  a  few  days  this  line  was  repaired,  and  New  York  and  the 
rest  of  the  United  States  and  Canada  were  put  into  telegraphic 
communication  with  Europe. 


on  to  the  cable  remaining  on  board,  and  finish  the  work  so 
unfortunately  interrupted  the  year  before.  On  August  I2th, 
the  Great  Eastern,  accompanied  by  s.s.  Medway,  arrived 
on  the  scene  of  action,  where  they  joined  H.M.S.  Terrible 
and  s.s.  Albany,  these  vessels  having  left  Heart's  Content 
Bay  a  week  in  advance  to  buoy  the  line  of  the  1865  cable 
and  commence  grappling.  The  plan  decided  on  was  to 
drag  for  the  cable  near  the  end  with  all  three  ships  at  once. 
The  cable,  when  raised  to  a  certain  height,  was  to  be  cut 
by  the  Medway,  stationed  to  the  westward  of  the  Great 
Eastern,  so  as  to  enable  the  latter  vessel  to  lift  the  Valentia 
end  on  board. 

After  repeated  failures  and  many  mishaps,  the  cable  was 
hooked  on  August  3ist  by  the  Great  Eastern  (when  the  grapnel 
had  been  lowered  for  the  thirtieth  time),  and  picking  up 
commenced  in  a  complete  calm.  When  the  bight  of  cable 
was  about  900  fathoms  from  the  surface,  the  grappling  rope 
was  buoyed.  The  big  ship  then  proceeded  to  grapple  three 
miles  west  of  the  buoy,  and  the  Medway  another  two  miles, 
or  so,  west  of  her  again.  The  cable  was  soon  once  more 
hooked  by  both  ships,  and  when  the  Medway  had  raised  her 
bight  to  within  300  fathoms  of  the  surface  she  was  ordered 
to  break  it.  The  Great  Eastern  having  stopped  picking  up 
when  the  bight  was  800  fathoms  from  the  surface,  proceeded 
to  resume  the  operation  as  soon  as  the  intentional  rupture 
of  the  cable  had  eased  the  strain,  which,  with  a  loose  end 
of  about  two  miles,  at  once  fell  from  10  or  u  tons  to  5  tons. 
Slowly  but  surely,  and  amid  breathless  silence,  the  long-lost 
cable  made  its  appearance  at  last — for  the  third  time — above 
water,  a  little  before  one  o'clock  (early  morn)  of  September 



2nd.     Two  hours  later  the  precious  end  was  on  board,  and 
signals  were  exchanged  with  Valentia.1 

The  recovered  end  was  spliced  on  to  the  cable  on  board, 
and  the  same  morning  the  Great  Eastern  started  paying  out 
about  680  nautical  miles  of  cable  towards  Newfoundland. 
On  September  8th,  when  only  13  miles  from  the  Bay  of  Heart's 
Content — just  after  receiving  a  summary  of  the  ne\vs  in 
The  Times  of  that  morning — the  tests  showed  a  fault  in  the 
line.  The  mischief  was  soon  found  to  be  on  board  ship ; 
and  the  faulty  portion  having  been  cut  out,  paying  out  again 
proceeded,  finishing  the  same  day  at  eleven  o'clock  in  the 
forenoon.  The  Medway  immediately  set  to  work  laying  the 
shore-end,  and  that  evening  a  second  line  of  communica- 
tion across  the  Atlantic  was  completed.  The  total  length  of 
this  cable,  commenced  in  1865,  was  1,896  miles  ;  average 
depth,  1,900  fathoms. 

The  main  feature  and  accomplishment  in  connection 
with  the  second  and  third  Atlantic  cables,  of  1865  and  1866, 
was  the  recovery  of  the  former  in  deeper  water  than  had 
ever  been  before  effected,  in  the  open  ocean  ;  just  as  in  the 
first  (1858)  line  it  was  the  demonstration  of  the  fact  that 
a  cable  could  be  successfully  laid  in  such  a  depth,  and  worked 
through  electrically.2 

It  should  be  mentioned  that  Professor  Thomson's  re- 
flecting apparatus  for  testing  and  signalling  through  a  long 
submarine  line  had  been  considerably  improved  since  the  first 

1  Submarine  Telegraphs.     The  Story  of  the  Atlantic  Cable. 

2  The  Story  of  the  Atlantic  Cable. 


cable.  In  illustration  of  the  degree  of  sensibility  and  perfection 
attained  at  this  period  in  the  appliances  for  working  the 
line,  the  following  experiment  is  of  striking  interest  :  Mr. 
Latimer  Clark — who  went  to  Valentia  to  test  the  cable  on 
behalf  of  Messrs.  Bright  &  Clark — had  the  conductor  of  the 
two  lines  joined  together  at  the  Newfoundland  end,  thus 
forming  an  unbroken  length  of  3,700  miles  in  circuit.  He 
then  placed  some  pure  sulphuric  acid  in  a  lady's  silver 
thimble,  with  a  fragment  of  zinc  weighing  a  grain  or  two. 
By  this  primitive  agency  he  succeeded  in  conveying  signals 
twice  through  the  breadth  of  the  Atlantic  Ocean  in  little 
more  than  a  second  of  time.  The  deflections  were  not  of  a 
dubious  character,  but  full  and  strong,  the  spot  of  light 
traversing  freely  over  a  space  of  12  inches  or  more,  from 
which  it  was  manifest  that  an  even  smaller  battery  would 
suffice  to  produce  somewhat  similar  effects.  This  speaks 
well  for  the  electrical  components  assigned  to  the  two 
lines,  and  for  the  arrangements  adopted  in  working  them. 
It  also  shows  the  benefit  derived  from  seven  years' 
extra  experience  in  manufacture,  backed  up  by  the 
previously  -  mentioned  exhaustive  Government  inquiry 

Notwithstanding  the  dimensions  of  the  core,  these  cables 
were  worked  slowly  at  first— at  a  rate  of  about  eight  words 
per  minute.  This  was,  however,  steadily  increased  as  the 
staff  became  more  accustomed  to  the  apparatus  up  to  fifteen 
and  even  seventeen  words  per  minute,  with  the  application 
of  condensers. 

Unfortunately  both  these  lines  broke  down  a  few  months 
later,  and  one  of  them  again  during  the  following  year. 


The  faults  were  localised  l  with  great  accuracy  from  Heart's 
Content  by  Mr.  F.  Lambert,  on  behalf  of  Messrs.  Bright 
&  Clark.  Unlike  the  1858  line,  however,  these  last  cables 
had  not  been  killed  electrically  ;  and  being  worthy  of  re- 
pairs, they  were  maintained  for  a  considerable  time. 

On  the  return  of  the  1866  Expedition,  a  banquet  was 
given  to  the  cable  layers  by  the  Liverpool  Chamber  of  Com- 
merce as  soon  as  the  Great  Eastern  was  once  more  safely 
moored  in  the  Mersey. 

The  following  account  from  The  Times  will  be  of  some 
interest  here  :— 

The  decorations  assumed  an  emblematic  character,  and  were 
peculiarly  appropriate  to  the  event  which  was  being  celebrated. 
From  the  centre  of  the  room  there  hung  the  grapnel  by  which  the 
previous  line  was  recovered  from  the  bed  of  the  ocean,  a  piece 
of  the  cable  itself,  and  the  grapnel  chain.  Then  around  the  room 
were  two  lines  of  the  cable  supported  by  gilded  grapnels,  a  pro- 
fusion of  sea-weed  being  entangled  about  the  lines.  The  principal 
mirrors  were  surmounted  by  trophies  of  flags  :  those  over  the 
mirror  at  the  rear  of  the  President  consisting  of  English  and 
American  flags,  and  those  over  the  principal  side  mirrors  being 
flags  of  all  nations. 

A  line  of  telegraph  was  extended  from  the  British  and  Irish 
Magnetic  Telegraph  Company's  Office,  at  the  Liverpool  Exchange, 
to  the  banqueting  room  ;  and  as  a  practical  illustration  of  the 
working  of  the  cable,  a  message  was  despatched  to  Washington, 
besides  communications  by  the  telegraph  being  read  from  New- 

The  chair  was  occupied  by  the  Right  Hon.  Sir  Stafford 

1  The  above  location  was  performed  by  a  method  based  on  Charles 
Blight's  patent  of  1852,  already  referred  to. 


Northcote,  Bart.,1  President  of  the  Board  of  Trade.  The 
following  were  amongst  the  invited  guests  :  The  Right  Hon. 
Lord  Stanley,  M.P.,  Secretary  of  State  for  Foreign  Affairs  ; 
the  Right  Hon.  Lord  Carnarvon  ;  the  Right  Rev.  the  Lord 
Bishop  of  Chester  ;  the  Right  Hon.  W.  E.  Gladstone,  M.P.  ; 
Sir  Charles  Bright,  M.P.,  original  projector  of  the  Atlantic 
Cable,  and  engineer  to  the  Anglo-American  Telegraph 
Company  ;  Professor  W.  Thomson,  electrical  adviser  to  the 
Atlantic  Telegraph  Company  ;  Mr.  Latimer  Clark,  co-engineer 
with  Sir  C.  Bright ;  Mr.  R.  A.  Glass,  managing  director  to  the 
Telegraph  Construction  Company  (contractors) ;  Mr.  Samuel 
Canning,  engineer  to  the  contractors  ;  Mr.  Henry  Clifford, 
assistant  engineer  to  the  contractors ;  Mr.  Willoughby 
Smith,  electrician  to  the  contractors ;  Captain  James 
Anderson,  commander  of  the  Great  Eastern  ;  Mr.  William 
Barber,  chairman  of  the  Great  Ship  Company  ;  Mr.  John 
Chatterton,  manager  of  the  Gutta-Percha  Works  ;  Mr.  E.  B. 
Bright,  Magnetic  Telegraph  Company  ;  Mr.  T.  B.  Horsfall, 
M.P.  ;  and  Mr.  John  Laird,  M.P. 

After  proposing  toasts  to  Her  Majesty  the  Queen,  to  the  Presi- 
dent of  the  United  States,  and  to  the  Prince  of  Wales,  the  Chair- 
man (Sir  S.  Northcote)  again  rose  amidst  applause  and  said  it 
was  a  maxim  of  a  great  Roman  poet  that  a  great  work  should  be 
begun  by  plunging  into  the  middle  of  the  subject.  He  would 
therefore  do  so  by  proposing  a  toast  to  the  projectors  of  the 
Atlantic  Telegraph,  Sir  Charles  Bright  and  Mr.  Cyrus  Field,  Mr. 
J.  W.  Brett  having  since  unfortunately  died.  When  they  came 
in  after  years  to  relate  the  history  of  this  cable,  they  would  find 
many  who  had  contributed  to  it  ;  but  it  would  be  as  impossible 

1  Afterwards  the  first  Earl  of  Iddesleigh,  G.C.B. 


to  say  who  were  the  originators  of  the  great  invention  as  it  was 
to  say  who  were  the  first  inventors  of  steam.  He  begged  to 
couple  with  the  toast  the  name  of  Sir  Charles  Bright,  as,  perhaps, 
the  foremost  representative  from  all  points  of  view,  up  to  the 
present  time.  (Applause.)  The  greatest  honour  is  due  to  the 
indomitable  perseverance  and  energy  of  Sir  C.  Bright  that  the 
original  cable  was  successfully  laid,  though — through  no  fault 
of  his — it  had  but  a  short  useful  existence.  (Great  cheering.) 

Sir  Charles  Bright,  M.P.,  after  acknowledging  the  compliment 
paid  to  the  "  original  projectors  "  and  to  himself  personally,  said 
that  the  idea  of  laying  a  cable  across  the  Atlantic  was  the  natural 
outcome  of  the  success  which  was  attained  in  carrying  short 
lines  under  the  English  and  Irish  Channels,  and  was  a  common 
subject  of  discussion  among  those  concerned  in  telegraph  exten- 
sion prior  to  the  formation  of  the  Atlantic  Telegraph  Com- 

About  ten  years  ago  the  science  had  sufficiently  advanced  to 
permit  of  the  notion  assuming  a  practical  form.  Soundings 
taken  in  the  Atlantic  between  Ireland  and  Newfoundland  proved 
that  the  bottom  was  soft,  and  that  no  serious  currents  or  abrad- 
ing agencies  existed  ;  for  the  minute  and  fragile  shells  brought 
up  by  the  sounding-line  were  perfect  and  uninjured. 

There  only  remained  the  proof  that  electricity  could  be  suc- 
cessfully employed  through  so  vast  a  length  of  conductor.  Upon 
this  point,  and  the  best  mode  of  working  such  a  line,  he  had 
been  experimenting  for  several  years.  He  had  carried  on  a 
series  of  investigations  which  resulted  in  establishing  the  fact 
that  messages  could  be  practically  passed  through  an  unbroken 
circuit  of  more  than  two  thousand  miles  of  insulated  wire — a 
notion  derided  at  that  time  by  many  distinguished  authorities. 
Mr.  Wildman  Whitehouse — who  subsequently  became  Electri- 
cian to  the  Company — had  been  likewise  engaged.  On  comparing 
notes  later,  it  was  discovered  that  they  had  arrived  at  similar 
conclusions,  though  holding  somewhat  different  views.  His 
(Sir  C.  Bright's)  calculations,  using  other  instruments,  led  him 
to  believe  that  a  conductor  nearly  four  times  the  size  of  that 


adopted  would  be  desirable,  with  a  slightly  thicker  insulator.  It 
was  this  type  which  the  new  cables  just  laid  had  been  furnished 

In  1856,  Mr.  Cyrus  Field — to  whom  the  world  was  as  much 
indebted  for  the  establishment  of  the  line  as  to  any  man — came 
over  to  England  upon  the  completion  of  the  telegraph  between 
Nova  Scotia  and  Newfoundland.  He  then  joined  with  the 
late  Mr.  Brett  and  himself  (Sir  C.  Bright)  with  a  view  to  extend- 
ing this  system  to  Europe,  and  they  mutually  agreed  to  carry 
out  the  undertaking. 

A  meeting  was  first  held  in  Liverpool,  and  in  the  course  of  a  few 
days  their  friends  had  subscribed  the  necessary  capital.  So  that  in 
greeting  those  who  had  just  returned  from  the  last  expedition — 
Mr.  Canning,  Mr.  Clifford,  Captain  Anderson,  and  other  guests 
of  the  evening — Liverpool  was  fitly  welcoming  those  who  had 
accomplished  the  crowning  success  of  an  enterprise  to  which  at 
the  outset  she  had  so  largely  contributed.  (Applause.) 

The  circumstances  connected  with  the  first  cable  would  be  in 
the  recollection  of  every  one  ;  and  although  the  loss  was  con- 
siderable, the  experience  gained  was  of  no  small  moment.  A 
few  months  after  the  old  line  had  ceased  to  work,  their  chair- 
man (Sir  S.  Northcote)  consulted  him  on  behalf  of  the  Govern- 
ment as  to  the  best  form  of  cable  for  connecting  us  telegraphically 
with  Gibraltar  ;  and  he  (Sir  C.  Bright)  did  not  hesitate  to  recom- 
mend the  same  type  of  conductor  and  insulator  which  he  had 
before  suggested  for  the  Atlantic  line.  This  class  of  conductor 
in  the  newly-laid  Atlantic  cable  appeared  likely  to  give  every 
satisfaction,  he  was  happy  to  say  ;  and  the  mechanical  con- 
struction of  the  cable — also  the  same  as  that  he  had  previously 
specified  for  the  Gibraltar  line— appeared  to  have  admirably 
met  some  of  the  difficulties  experienced  in  cable  operations. 

The  credit  attached  to  these  second  and  third  Atlantic  cables 
must  mainly  rest  with  the  Telegraph  Construction  Company 
(formerly  Messrs.  Glass,  Elliot  &  Co.)  and  their  staff,  inasmuch 
as  in  this  case  the  responsibility  rested  with  them  throughout. 
The  directors— including  Mr.  Glass,  Mr.  Elliot,  Mr.  Gooch,  Mr. 


Fender,   Mr.   Barclay,   and  Mr.   Brassey — deserved  the  reward 
which  they  and  the  shareholders  would  no  doubt  reap. 

To  Mr.  Glass — upon  whom  the  principal  responsibility  of  the 
manufacture  devolved — the  greatest  praise  was  due,  for  his 
indomitable  perseverance  in  the  enterprise.  Then  the  art  of 
insulating  the  conducting  wire  had  been  wonderfully  improved 
by  Mr.  Chatterton  and  Mr.  Willoughby  Smith,  so  that,  nowadays, 
a  very  feeble  electrical  current  was  sufficient  to  work  the  longest 
circuits — an  enormous  advance  on  the  state  of  affairs  nine  years 

Again,  they  must  not  forget  how  much  of  the  success  now 
attained  was  due  to  Professor  Thomson  and  his  delicate  signall- 
ing apparatus,  the  advantages  of  which  have,  since  1858,  been 
more  firmly  established.  Mr.  Varley  had  also  done  much  useful 
work  since  becoming  electrician  to  the  "  Atlantic  "  Company. 
Moreover,  he  (Sir  C.  Bright)  hoped  the  active  services  of  his 
partner,  Mr.  Latimer  Clark,  would  not  be  lost  sight  of. 

It  was  satisfactory  to  find  that  the  cables  were  already  being 
worked  at  a  profit.  This  would  doubtless  be  quadrupled  within 
a  short  period,  when  the  land  lines  on  the  American  side  were 
improved.  (Hear,  hear,  and  applause.) 

With  this  commercial  success — combined  with  the  improve- 
ments introduced  into  submarine  cables,  and  the  power  of  picking 
up  and  repairing  them  from  vast  depths — there  was  a  future  for 
submarine  telegraphy  to  which  scarcely  any  bounds  could  be 
assigned.  A  certain  amount  had  already  been  done  ;  but  China 
and  Japan,  Australia  and  New  Zealand,  South  America  and  the 
West  India  Islands,  must  all  be  placed  within  speaking  distance 
of  England.  When  this  has  been  accomplished — but  not  till 
then — telegraphic  engineers  might  take  a  short  rest  from  their 
labours  and  ask  with  some  little  pride — 

QUCB  vegio  in  terris  nostri  non  plena  laboris  ? 
(Loud  Applause.) 

Then  followed  speeches  from  Lord  Stanley,  the  American 
Consul  (on  behalf  of  Mr.  Cyrus  Field)~and  others. 


Honours  were  subsequently  bestowed  on  some  of  the 
various  gentlemen  immediately  concerned  in  these  ulti- 
mately successful  undertakings  of  1865  and  1866. 

As  a  natural  sequence  other  Atlantic  cables  followed— 
first  of  all  in  1869  that  hailing  from  France — until  now  the 
North  Atlantic  ocean  alone  is  spanned  by  as  many  as  sixteen 
in  working  order.1  Sir  Charles  Bright  acted  in  a  consulting 
capacity — where  not  actually  as  engineer — to  practically  all 
of  those  of  a  pioneer  order  which  came  within  his  lifetime. 

1  Submarine  Telegraphs.     The  Story  of  the  Atlantic  Cable. 


The   Mediterranean   Cables 

OHORTLY  after  the  laying  of  the  1858  Atlantic  Cable, 
the  attention  of  Government  had  been  directed 
to  the  importance  of  establishing  direct  lines  of  telegraphic 
communication  between  Great  Britain  and  her  depen- 

Gibraltar  was  the  first  point  considered  and  decided 
upon.  Thus,  in  the  House  of  Commons  on  July  28th,  1859, 
Sir  W.  Gallwey  asked  the  Secretary  of  the  Admiralty 
"  what  experiments  were  being  made  before  risking  the  sum 
voted  for  the  Gibraltar  Cable."  Lord  Clarence  Paget  re- 
plied that  "  Experiments  were  in  progress  on  behalf  of  the 
Board  of  Trade,  by  those  eminent  engineers,  Sir  Charles 
Bright  and  Mr.  Robert  Stephenson,  with  a  view  to  testing 
the  composition  of  the  outer  coverings  of  telegraphic  cables."  l 

In  conjunction  with  Mr.  Stephenson,  Charles  Bright  drew 
up  a  report  on  the  subject.  Bright  w^as  also  independently 
consulted  regarding  the  proposed  line  by  the  late  Right  Hon. 
Sir  Stafford  Northcote,  Bart.,  M.P.,2  as  President  of  the 
Board  of  Trade.  Eventually,  at  the  request  of  Sir  S. 

1   The  Times,   July  2gth,   1859. 

?  Afterwards  the  first  Earl  of  Iddesleigh,  G.C.B, 



Northcote,  Bright  sent  in  a  detailed  report,  estimate,  and 
specification  to  the  Treasury.1  The  conductor  and  insulator 
recommended  by  Sir  Charles  were  the  same  as  he  had  ineffec- 
tively suggested  for  the  First  Atlantic  Cable — and  were 
both  of  much  greater  dimensions  than  anything  previously 
done,  consisting,  in  fact,  of  nearly  400  Ib.  copper  per  mile 
to  the  same  weight  of  gutta-percha  covering. 

This  core  was  forthwith  ordered  by  Government,  and 
manufactured  at  the  Wharf  Road  Gutta-Percha  Works,  in 
accordance  with  Bright's  specification.  The  outer  cover- 
ing ultimately  decided  on  by  Sir  Charles  was  exactly  the 
same  as  was  afterwards  adopted  for  the  second  and  third 
Atlantic  lines  of  1865  and  1866 — a  combination  of  iron  and 
hemp — with  a  view  to  meeting  the  exigencies  of  cable  opera- 
tions in  deep  water.  The  cable  was  constructed  at  Messrs. 
Glass,  Elliot  &  Co.'s  factory  towards  the  end  of  1859. 

Subsequently,  the  Government  decided  to  use  the  above 
to  connect  Rangoon  with  Singapore  for  the  purposes  of  a 
more  rapid  communication  with  China.  The  war  with 
that  country  having,  however,  come  to  an  end  before  the 
cable  was  completed,  the  necessity  for  this  line  was  lessened. 
Thus,  its  destination  was  changed  a  third  time  ;  and  it 
finally  came  into  use  as  a  link  with  Egypt — one  of  the 
stages  on  the  road  to  India.  The  cable  was  laid  in  three 
shallow  water  sections,  i.e.,  Malta-Tripoli,  Tripoli-Benghazi, 
and  Benghazi-Alexandria.  Perhaps  the  most  remarkable 

1  For  correspondence  and  Report  see  Parliamentary  Blue  Book 
respecting  "  The  Establishment  of  Telegraphic  Communication  in 
the  Mediterranean,  and  with  India/'  1859  ;  also  Appendix  2  of  Vol. 
II,  of  the  original  biography, 


feature  in  regard  to  this  line  is  the  fact  that  laying 
operations  were  always  suspended  at  nightfall.1  Notwith- 
standing the  dimensions  of  the  core  provided,  it  could  not 
be  worked  at  a  higher  speed  than  three  words  per  minute, 
on  account  of  the  instrument  adopted — i.e.,  the  Morse 

As  we  shall  see  later,  these  cables  were  subsequently  re- 
placed in  1868  by  a  direct  line  from  Malta  to  Alexandria, 
when  Sir  Charles  acted  both  as  engineer  and  electrician. 

The  Balearic  Islands  connected  with  Spain 

We  must  now  go  back  in  our  narrative,  as  the  undertaking 
we  are  about  to  describe  was  carried  through  a  year  previous 
to  that  just  referred  to. 

For  a  number  of  years,  from  1855,  the  deep  waters  of  the 
Mediterranean  had  proved  a  sort  of  bete  noire  to  cable  layers. 
In  1860,  however,  Sir  Charles  Bright  broke  the  spell  for 
a  time,  by  successfully  laying  an  important  series  of  cables 
for  the  Spanish  Government — viz.,  between  Barcelona  and 
Port  Mahon,  Minorca,  180  miles;  Minorca  to  Majorca,  35 
miles;  Majorca  to  Ivica,  74  miles  ;  and  Ivica  to  San  Antonio, 
Spain,  76  miles — in  all  365  nautical  miles.  These  cables 
were  submerged  in  great  depths,  that  between  Barcelona 
and  Port  Mahon  being  1,400  fathoms  deep.  They  were 
manufactured  by  Mr.  W.  T.  Henley.  The  sections  between 
the  three  islands  contained  two  conductors,  each  protected 
by  eighteen  outer  wires,  and  weighed  i  ton  18  cwt.  to  the 
nautical  mile  ;  and  the  two  to  the  mainland  were  single 

1  This  was,  it  is  believed,  on  the  score  of  difficult  navigation. 


wire  cables,  cased  with  sixteen  wires,  weighing  a  ton  and 
a  quarter  per  nautical  mile. 

Sir  Charles  fitted  out  a  vessel — the  s.s.  Stella — for  laying 
these  lines.  The  work  was  carried  out  with  great  expe- 
dition. On  August  2Qth,  1860,  Bright  laid  the  Minorca  to 
Majorca  section,  completing  the  shore  end  and  connections 
next  day.  The  315!  saw  the  shore  end  and  connections 
made  at  the  opposite  end  of  the  island  ;  and  the  following 
day  the  cable  was  laid  between  Majorca  and  Iviga,  the  land- 
ing portion  being  carried  out  on  September  2nd.  Rough 
weather  delayed  operation  for  two  days  ;  but  on  the  5th 
Iviga  island  was  put  into  telegraphic  communication  with 
the  Spanish  mainland  at  Javea  Bay,  alongside  Cape 

The  remaining  section  to  be  laid  was  that  between  Barce- 
lona and  Minorca — a  distance  of  about  100  miles.  Sir 
Charles  mentions  in  his  diary,  relating  to  the  laying  of  this 
last  length  :  "  Weather  very  bad,  and  ship  pitching  and 
rolling  much." 

After  laying  the  shore  end  at  Javea  Bay,  and  making 
the  connections  with  the  Spanish  land  lines,  he  went  on  to 
Barcelona  to  complete  the  longest  section— 180  miles— 
thence  to  Port  Mahon,  Minorca  ;  but  here  he  met  with 
considerable  delay,  first  by  a  fault  a  long  way  down  the 
main  coil,  which  "  rendered  it  necessary  for  the  cable  to 
be  turned  over  into  the  after  hold  to  get  down  to  the  de- 
fect—hands to  work  day  and  night."  x  Then,  on  Septem- 
ber i5th,  when  ready  to  start,  there  came  a  message  from 

1  From  Sir  C.  Bright 's  diary. 


the  Spanish  Government,  from  Madrid,  to  "  detain  the 
Stella  until  the  arrival  of  Sefior  d'Oksza,"  the  Director  of 
Telegraphs.  This  gentleman  was  of  Polish  origin,  his  full 
name  being  Count  Thaddeus  Orzechowski,  which  he  had 
thoughtfully  abbreviated  for  business  purposes.1 

After  waiting  till  September  lyth,  it  began  blowing  heavily 
till  the  2ist,  when  Bright's  diary  states  :— 

6  a.m.,  steam  up,  ready  to  leave,  but  it  appears  the  Bona- 
ventura  (Spanish  gunboat  to  accompany  the  Stella)  was  not 
informed  yesterday,  and  cannot  leave  this  morning.  Weather 

Saturday,  September  22nd. — 5  a.m.,  steam  up,  but  delayed  in 
lifting  anchor  by  the  chain  of  a  brig  fouling  ours.  6.45,  steam- 
ing out  of  harbour.  10  o'clock,  all  ready  for  starting,  but  no 
current  through  cable  \  Found  that  Spaniards  had  cut  the  cable 
and  led  it  up  a  pole  on  shore  \  11.55  a.m.,  started  paying  out. 

At  1.55  next  morning,  when  in  1,300  fathoms,  Sir  Charles 
enters  :— 

Drum  stopped ;  brakesman  asleep ;  found  Suter  doing 
Bank's  work,  having  been  up  all  the  time  himself  in  the  hold. 
Luckily  it  was  seen  to  in  time. 

The  latter  part  of  the  line  was  laid  in  a  heavy  sea,  and 
there  were  several  troubles  from  broken  outer  wires  ;  but 
the  laying  to  Port  Mahon  was  successfully  finished  at 

These  cables  worked  well  for  many  years. 

1  Some  twenty  years  later  Sir  Charles  was  again  associated  with 
Count  d'Oksza  in  connection  with  cables  from  Spain  to  the  Canary 
Isles,  as  will  be  seen  in  subsequent  pages, 


Proposed  Permanent   Exhibition  in  Paris 

in\URING  the  early  part  of  1860,  Bright  was  actively 
*^  engaged  on  a  project  brought  to  him  by  some  lead- 
ing Frenchmen,  headed  by  Prince  Napoleon,  with  a  view  to 
establishing  a  permanent  universal  exhibition  in  the  build- 
ing erected  in  the  Champs  Elysees  for  the  recent  exhibition. 
Although  a  large  amount  of  space  was  applied  for  by  impor- 
tant English,  French,  and  German  firms,  it  was  not  enough 
to  make  it  a  success,  or  justify  the  promoters — or  Sir  Charles 
—in  carrying  out  the  scheme. 

At  the  beginning  of  1860 — as  well  as  previously — Charles 
Bright's  time  was  largely  taken  up  in  furthering  telegraphic 
extensions  to  Hanover,  Denmark,  the  Channel  Islands,  and 
Normandy,  on  behalf  of  the  "  Magnetic  ''  and  "Submarine" 
Telegraph  Companies,  who  had  a  mutual  working  arrange- 
ment. The  first  of  these  cables  started  from  the  coast  of 
Norfolk,  and  Sir  Charles  erected  a  special  land  line  from 
Cromer  to  connect  it  with  London.  At  that  time  there  was 
a  great  deal  of  prejudice  against  overhead  wires,  from  an 



artistic  standpoint.  Thus,  every  effort  was  made  to  render 
the  work  as  sightly  as  possible.  The  poles  were  furnished 
with  handsome  finials,  and  were  painted  green,  so  as  to  be 
pleasant  to  the  country  eye,  with  a  few  feet  of  white  at 
the  bottom  to  warn  vehicles  by  night.  But  still  these  posts 
did  not  meet  with  the  approbation  that  was  desired  from 
suburban  villa  residents  ;  and  the  song  of  the  wires  appears 
to  have  acted  as  an  irritant  rather  than  otherwise  !  The 
rustics — who,  like  most  of  our  country  folk,  had  an  innate 
dislike  to  anything  novel — seem  to  have  supposed  this 
humming  to  be  occasioned  by  the  passage  of  the  messages  !  ! 
On  one  occasion,  when  Sir  Charles  was  inspecting  part  of 
the  new  work  near  Norwich,  he  noticed  that  the  "  ganger  " 
— a  powerful  man  who  rejoiced  in  the  sobriquet  "  Hulks  " 
— had  one  side  of  his  head  much  bruised.  "  Hulks  "  ex- 
plained that  on  putting  up  a  pole  opposite  a  villa,  "  the  old 
gent  came  out  of  his  front  garden  with  a  spade  and  caught 
me  a  clop  on  the  head  with  it,  so  I  just  twisted  his  collar 
till  his  tongue  came  out,  and  then  we  was  quite  friendly  - 
like  !  " 

The  cable  from  Cromer  to  Hanover  was  280  miles  in 
length.  It  contained  two  conductors,  and  weighed  three 
tons  to  the  mile.  The  line  to  Heligoland  and  Denmark  was 
350  miles  long,  with  three  conductors,  and  was  four  tons  per 
mile  in  weight.  The  "  Magnetic  "  Company  subscribed  a 
considerable  amount  of  the  capital  for  these  lines,  on  account 
of  the  large  accession  of  traffic  brought  on  their  land  wires  in 
connection  with  the  North  of  Europe. 

Many  have  been  identified  by  some  peculiar  character- 
istic or  other  ;  but  it  is  doubtful  whether  any  one  has  ever 

1860-1863  207 

been  traced  on  a  journey  by  his  love  of  pickles,  except  Sir 
Charles — for  whom  they  possessed  a  special  attraction 
through  life.  Sir  Charles  had  arranged  to  accompany  the 
above  Anglo-Continental  Cable  Expeditions  in  the  "  Mag- 
netic "  Company's  interests,  and  was  going  down  from  town 
with  Mr.  Henry  Clifford,  who,  with  Mr.  (afterwards  Sir  Samuel) 
Canning,  ultimately  laid  the  cables  on  behalf  of  Messrs. 
Glass,  Elliot  and  Co.  Somehow  they  missed  one  another, 
and  Clifford  arrived  alone  at  Norwich.  He  made  inquiries 
at  the  principal  inn  whether  Sir  Charles  had  arrived. 
Whereupon  an  obtuse,  old-fashioned  waiter  said  there  had 
been  some  gentlemen,  but  they  didn't  leave  their  names. 
When  cross-questioned  as  to  their  appearance,  he  said  he 
thought  several  were  tall,  and  perhaps  fair.  Failing  infor- 
mation, Mr.  Clifford  sat  down  to  cold  beef.  On  asking  for 
the  mixed  pickles,  the  ancient  waiter  replied  :  "  Well,  a 
party,  what  lunched  here  just  now,  finished  the  bottle, 
but  I'll  send  out  for  some  more." 

"  Oh,   indeed  ;     was   he   tall   and   fair  ?  " 
'  Yes,  sir  ;  and  he  drove  away  to  Cromer." 
"  All  right,"  said  Clifford  to  himself,  "  Sir   Charles   has 
gone  on  "  ;    and  so  it  was. 

In  November  of  the  same  year  (1860)  Mr.  (now  Sir) 
W.  H.  Preece  read  a  paper  before  the  Institution  of  Civil 
Engineers,  on  "  The  Maintenance  and  Durability  of  Sub- 
marine Cables  in  Shallow  Water."  One  of  the  main  purports 
of  this  paper  was  to  point  out  the  supreme  importance  of 
thoroughly  surveying  the  bottom  along  the  route  proposed 
for  a  cable.  Though  the  suggestion  was  somewhat  scornfully 


received,  the  same  point  had  been  dwelt  on  by  Sir  Charles 
Bright  in  his  evidence  before  the  Government  Committee 
on  the  Construction  of  Submarine  Cables,  a  year  pre- 

Bright  argued  that  :— 

An  extremely  close  search  should  be  made  before  telegraphic 
cables  were  lowered  into  unknown  depths  and  laid  across  sub- 
marine hills,  gorges,  and  valleys,  the  irregularity  of  whose  forms 
as  existing  between  the  points  hitherto  sounded,  might  prove 
to  be  enormous. 

He  further  asserted  that  :— 

A  full  and  proper  submarine  search  was  almost  as  essential 
a  preliminary  to  a  rational  scheme  of  laying  down  a  telegraphic 
cable,  as  a  survey  of  the  outlines  of  land  was  for  an  engineer 
before  he  could  accurately  define  the  best  and  safest  route  to  be 
followed  by  a  railroad. 

The  result  of  Mr.  Preece's  contentions  and  of  Charles 
Bright's  statements2  is  that,  nowadays,  cables  are  designed 
to  suit  every  depth  and  every  bottom  ;  moreover,  the  opera- 
tion of  laying  a  cable  in  a  permanent  manner  has  become  a 
comparatively  simple  affair.3 

Another  feature  of  Mr.  Preece's  paper  was  a  review  of  the 
relative  merits  of  light  and  heavy  sheathed  cables.  Bright 

1  See  Blue-Book. 

2  Mr.  Preece's  remarks  were  directed  in  particular  to  the  rocky 
bottoms  of  shallow  water,  whilst  Sir  Charles'  had  reference  to  the 
precipices  which  deep  water  undertakings  have  to  cope  with. 

3  This,  however,  was  not  destined  to  be  so,  as  regards  great  depths, 
for  some  years  ;   for  it  was  not  till  1872  that  the  Thomson  steel  wire 
sounding  apparatus  was  introduced,  thereby  rendering  a  close  and 
accurate  deep-sea  survey  practicable  where  it  was  not  before. 

1860-1863  2og 

spoke  strongly  against  a  slight  armour  for  rough  bottoms 
or  where  the  cable  is  liable  to  disturbances,  from  one  cause 
or  another,  in  shallow  depths.  He  also  argued  against 
the  various  proposals  for  a  cable  without  any  iron  sheathing 
for  deep  waters.  His  contention  was  that  though  such 
a  cable  might  be  readily  picked  up  when  new,  it  would  soon 
fail  to  have  sufficient  strength  for  the  purpose.1 

In  the  early  part  of  1861  Sir  Charles  and  his  family  moved 
to  a  town  house,  12,  Upper  Hyde  Park  Gardens — afterwards 
forming  a  part  of  Lancaster  Gate. 

Retirement  from  Engineer  ship  to  the  Magnetic  Telegraph 

About  this  time  it  became  clear  to  Charles  Bright  that  a 
large  professional  business  was  open  to  him  in  connection 
with  the  various  submarine  telegraphs  then  in  contem- 
plation, and  that  in  a  consulting  capacity  he  could  turn 
time  to  a  more  profitable  account  than  he  could  possibly 
do  as  the  active  Engineer-in-Chief  to  the  British  and  Irish 
Magnetic  Telegraph  Company,  the  network  of  whose 
lines  was  now  fairly  complete.  Accordingly,  he  relin- 
quished the  latter  post,  and  became  Consulting  Engineer 
instead.2  A  banquet  was  given  in  his  honour  by  the  direc- 
tors and  executive  staff  of  the  Company.  This  formed  an 
occasion  for  the  presentation  of  some  handsome  plate, 

1  A  full  report  of  Sir  Charles's  remarks  on  this  occasion  were 
embodied  in  Appendix  4  of  Vol.  II.  of  the  original  biography. 

2  This  position  he  held  up  to  the  time  of  the  acquisition  of  the 
telegraphs  of  the  United  Kingdom  by  the  State  in  1870. 



in  addition  to  an  illuminated  testimonial,  similar  to  one 
he  had  previously  received  from  the  Atlantic  Company. 

Before  quitting  the  subject  of  Bright 's  association  with 
the  "  Magnetic  "  Company,  it  is  thought  that  a  few  further 
reminiscences  may  be  of  interest  here.  When  his  Atlantic 
Cable  work  was  complete,  Sir  Charles  resumed  engineering 
charge  of  the  Magnetic  system.  Soon  afterwards  he  was 
confronted  with  a  serious  trouble  in  connection  with  their 
main  underground  lines,  stretching  from  Dover  to  London, 
and  thence  to  Birmingham,  Manchester  and  Liverpool,  with 
extensions  to  Scotland  and  Ireland.  As  already  described, 
they  were  laid  in  1851  and  1852,  and  although  carefully 
protected  in  troughs  and  covered  with  tarred  yarn,  their  in- 
sulation was  rapidly  deteriorating  by  the  gutta-percha  be- 
coming desiccated.  This  was  found  to  occur  in  a  more 
striking  manner  wherever  laid  past  oak  plantations, 
from  some  chemical  action  of  the  roots  upon  the  ground. 
Fortunately,  by  the  amalgamation  with  the  "  British,"  the 
Company  was  possessed  of  the  former's  Act  of  1850,  which 
provided  powers  to  erect  post  lines  along  the  highways. 
None  of  the  other  companies  had  been  able  to  obtain  this 
privilege,  and  it  was  said  that  the  clause,  when  passed  by  the 
Committee  and  the  House,  was  supposed  by  them  to  refer 
to  "  testing  posts  !  "  However,  it  proved  the  salvation 
of  the  Magnetic  Company  ;  for  the  price  of  gutta-percha 
had  about  doubled  in  the  interval,  and  they  could  not  have 
afforded  to  lay  new  underground  wires.  As  it  was,  there 
was  the  difficulty  of  turning  the  old  gutta-percha  wires  to 
sufficient  account  to  pay  for  the  new  overhead  system. 

This  was  the  problem  that  Sir  Charles  had  to  solve.     He 

1860-1863  2II 

approached  the  Gutta-Percha  Company,  who  had  originally 
supplied  the  many  thousand  miles  of  gutta-percha-covered 
wire  to  the  Company,  and  who  at  this  time  had  nearly  a 
monopoly  of  the  business ;  but  their  able  and  astute 
manager,  Mr.  Samuel  Statham,  would  make  no  bid  for  the 
old  wire  that  at  all  satisfied  the  requirements.  So  Sir 
Charles  set  to  work  to  strip  the  gutta-percha  from  the  copper 
conductors,  and  by  warming  it  up  to  convert  it  into  saleable 
lumps  for  ordinary  manufacture  ;  for  though  much  of  its 
insulating  power  was  lost,  it  was  still  quite  good  for  a 
number  of  trade  purposes.  He  first  tried  having  the 
material  sliced  off ;  but  this  proved  tedious  and  expensive. 
He  then  had  the  wires  drawn  through  the  rollers  used  for 
making  steels  for  the  crinoline,  at  that  time  in  fashion  with 
ladies.  The  rollers  were  set  to  the  exact  diameter  of  the 
copper  wire,  and  the  gutta-percha  being  compressed  fell 
off  on  each  side  as  it  passed  through.  It  was  then  made  up 
into  lumps  and  sold.  In  this  way  it  realised  more  than 
double  the  price  originally  offered  by  Mr.  Statham,  who  there- 
fore, not  wanting  competition  in  the  gutta-percha  market, 
bought  the  whole  lot  !  Thus  the  Magnetic  Company  were 
enabled  to  reconstruct  their  lines  out  of  the  amount  secured 
for  the  old  wires.  Substituting  the  one  system  for  the  other 
naturally  involved  much  consideration  and  care.  The  most 
defective  sections  had  to  be  completed  first,  and  the  change 
made  to  the  new  wires  bit  by  bit.  But  this  arduous  under- 
taking was  so  carefully  arranged  by  Sir  Charles  and  his 
able  assistants,  that  no  interruption  occurred  to  the  heavy 
business  of  the  Company  throughout  the  kingdom. 


Partnership  with  Mr.  Latimer  Clark 

A  little  later  Charles  Bright  joined  in  partnership  with 
Mr.  Latimer  Clark,  M.Inst.C.E.,  a  gentleman  of  great 
experience  and  high  repute  in  telegraph  work.  He  had 
been  for  several  years  the  engineer  of  the  Electric  and 
International  Telegraph  Company.  There  w^as  something 
singularly  appropriate  in  this  union  of  the  engineers  of  the 
two  largest  telegraphic  companies  in  existence,  both  indi- 
viduals possessing,  moreover,  great  inventive  ingenuity. 
Sir  Charles  Bright  and  Mr.  Clark  had  both  favoured  heavy 
cables  for  shallow  water  in  contrast  to  other  engineers,  who 
had  employed  light  cables  in  small  depths. 

As  consulting  engineers,  the  firm  of  Bright  &  Clark 
became  at  once  associated  with  nearly  all  the  big  submarine 
cable  undertakings  that  followed. 

The  Formulation  of  Electrical  Standards  and  Units 
In  this  same  year  (1861)  an  important  paper1  was  con- 

L  The  object  of  this  paper  was  to  point  out  the  desirability  of 
establishing  a  set  of  standards  of  electrical  measurement,  and  to 
ask  the  aid  and  authority  of  the  British  Association  in  introducing 
such  standards  into  practical  use.  Four  standards  or  units  were 
considered  necessary: — • 

(1)  The  unit  of  electro-motive  force,  or  tension,  or  potential. 

(2)  The  unit  of  absolute  electrical  quantity,   or  of  static  electricity. 

(3)  The  unit  of  electrical  current,  which  should  be  formed  by  the  com- 
bination of  the  unit  of  quantity  with  time.     Such,  for  example,  as  the  flow 
of  a  unit  of  electricity  per  second. 

(4)  The  unit  of  electrical  resistance,  which  should  be  the  same  unit 
as  that  of  current : — viz.,  a  wire  which  would  conduct  a  unit  of  electricity 
in  a  second  of  time. 

The  necessity  of  the  adoption  of  some  nomenclature  was  also 
pointed  out,  "  in  order  to  adapt  the  system  to  the  wants  of  practical 
telegraphists."  See  B.A.  Report  of  Manchester  Meeting,  1861. 

1860-1863  213 

tributed  by  Sir  Charles  Bright  and  his  partner,  on  electrical 
standards,  units,  and  measurements,  to  the  British  Asso- 
ciation for  the  Advancement  of  Science.  This  formed  the 
sequel  to  a  letter  addressed  by  Bright  to  Prof.  J.  Clerk 
Maxwell,  F.R.S.,  some  months  previously,  on  the  whole  ques- 
tion of  electrical  standards  and  units.  Upon  the  paper  above 
alluded  to  being  read,  Professor  William  Thomson1  obtained 
the  appointment  of  a  committee  with  the  object  of  deter- 
mining a  rational  system  of  electrical  units,  and  to  construct 
an  equivalent  standard  of  measurement.  The  members 
were  :  Professors  Williamson,  Wheatstone,  Thomson,  Miller, 
Clerk  Maxwell,  Dr.  Matthiessen  and  Mr.  Fleeming  Jenkin. 
These  were  joined  by  Sir  Charles  Bright,  Dr.  J.  P.  Joule, 
Dr.  Esselbach,  Messrs.  Balfour  Stewart  and  C.  W.  Siemens. 
Later  on  Prof.  G.  C.  Foster,  Messrs.  D.  Forbes,  C.  F.  Varley, 
Latimer  Clark  and  Charles  Hockin  were  added  to  the 
strength  of  the  committee.2 

The  first  of  the  British  Association  reports  of  1862  may 
be  said  to  have  been  the  signal  for  a  great  advance  in  the 

1  Referring  to  this  paper  some  years  later,  Lord  Kelvin   (then 
Sir  William  Thomson)  said  :   "I  may  mention  that  a  paper  was  com- 
municated to  the  British  Association  in  1861  by  Sir  Charles  Bright 
and  Mr.  Latimer  Clark,  in  which  the  names  that  we  now  have,  with 
some   slight   differences,    were   suggested  ;     moreover,    a   complete 
continuous  system  of  measurement  was  proposed,   which  fulfilled 
most  of  the  conditions  of  the  absolute  system  in  an  exceedingly  useful 
manner.     To  Sir  Charles  Bright  and  Mr.  Latimer  Clark,  therefore, 
is  due  the  whole  system  of  nomenclature  in  electrical  units  and 
standards  ;    we  are  consequently  very  greatly  indebted  to  them  in 
the  matter."      (See  "  Thomson  on  Electrical  Units  of  Measurement," 
Proc.  Inst.   C.E.,   1883.) 

2  See  Reports  of  Electrical  Standards,  edited  by  Fleeming  Jenkin, 


methods  of  testing  submarine  lines  electrically.  The  work 
of  the  committee  lasted  eight  years,  and  was  not  entirely 
finished  until  the  close  of  the  year  1869.  As  the  result  of 
its  labours,  we  have  the  system  of  electro-magnetic  absolute 
units  from  which  are  derived  the  ohm,  ampere,  farad,  volt, 
and  coulomb,  being  a  system  of  nomenclature  suggested 
by  Sir  C.  Bright  and  Mr.  Latimer  Clark  in  their  paper  of 
I86I.1  This  system  was  confirmed  by  an  International 
Congress,  in  1881,  at  which  every  civilised  nation  was  re- 
presented. The  creation  of  these  standards  has  substituted 
perfectly  definite  and  identical  quantities  for  the  many 
arbitrary  units  formerly  in  general  use  among  electricians, 
has  introduced  precise  definitions  in  all  questions  of  elec- 
trical measurements,  and  has,  indeed,  rendered  immense 
service,  both  to  the  electrical  industry  and  to  science 

During  the  year  1861,  Sir  Charles  and  Mr.  Clark  were 
largely  engaged  upon  experiments  on  gutta-percha-covered 
wire,  mainly  with  a  view  to  determining  the  influence 
which  temperature  had  upon  the  insulating  value  of  the 
gum.  An  exhaustive  series  of  tests  was  carried  out,  and  a 
comprehensive  table  of  definite  and  reliable  results  compiled 
therefrom.  These  were  supplemented  by  a  curve  and  table 
of  co-efficients,  which  are  given  in  Bright's  paper  on  "  The 

1  In  introducing  the  above  nomenclature  for  electrical  standards 
and  units,  Sir  Charles  and  his  partner  enshrined  the  names  and 
memories  of  some  of  our  greatest  and  earliest  electrical  savants  in 
the  every-day  words  employed  by  electricians  throughout  the  world 
in  such  a  way  as  to  honour  them  in  perpetuity.  It  now  remains 
for  the  revered  name  Kelvin  to  be  turned  to  similar  account. 

1860-1863  215 

Telegraph  to  India,"1  reproduced  in  the  Appendices  to  Vol. 
II  of  the  original  biography.  In  these  experiments  the 
wire  was  subjected  to  water  at  temperatures  varying  from 
freezing  point  to  over  100°  Fah.  The  results  obtained  gave 
a  law,  which  forms  the  basis  of  present-day  practice,  for  arriv- 
ing at  the  electrical  resistance  independent  of  temperature 
influence.  This  law  pointed  to  an  enormous  increase  in 
value  on  a  cable  being  submerged  in  the  cold  water  (a  few 
degrees  above  freezing  point),  at  the  depths  of  the  ocean. 

Corresponding  investigations  were  made  subsequently 
regarding  the  effect  of  pressure  on  the  insulation  in  order 
to  arrive  at  the  difference  after  submergence  at  the  bottom 
of  the  sea  ;  and  here  again  a  satisfactory  formula  was 
attained.  A  similar  improvement  was  revealed,  where 
cables  are  laid  at  great  depths,  and  also  where  time  has  a 
maturing  effect  upon  the  insulation.2 

In  1862,  Sir  Charles  Bright  took  out  patents  in  connection 
with  the  outer  coverings  of  submarine  cables.  By  this  inven- 
tion two  layers  of  hemp  or  other  yarn  are  wound  round  the 
sheathing  wires  in  opposite  directions,  each  layer  being  satu- 
rated with  a  preservative  adhesive  compound  of  bitumen 
and  tar.  It  was  thought  that  the  layers  of  yarn  and  bitu- 
minous composition  so  applied  would  effectually  check 

1  "  The  Telegraph  to  India,  and  its  Extensions  to  Australasia  and 
China,"  by  Sir  Charles  Tilston  Bright,  M.P.,  M.Inst.C.E.      Minutes 
Proc.  Inst.  C.E.,  vol.  xxv.  (1865). 

2  For  further  particulars,  see  a  paper  on  "  The  Physical  and  Elec- 
trical Effect  of  Pressure  and  Temperature  on  a  Submarine  Cable 
Core,"  by  Charles  Bright,  F.R.S.E.,  M.I.E.E.     Journal  Inst.  E,E,, 
vol.  xvii. 



the  oxidation  of  the  iron  wires — by  acting  as  a  more  or  less 
waterproof,  and  even  air-tight,  casing ;  and  so  it  proved. 
It  was  soon  found  that  such  an  outer  cover  also  behaved 
as  an  excellent  binder  for  the  sheathing  wires,  and  in  holding 
them  in  place  avoided  the  trouble  caused  by  broken  wires 
getting  adrift. 

Previously,  in  1858,  Mr.  Latimer  Clark,  Mr.  Frederick 
Braithwaite,  and  Mr.  George  Preece  had  collaborated  in 
a  patent — of  which  Mr.  Clark  was  the  main  author — for  a 
covering  of  hemp  and  asphalte  for  retarding  the  decay  of 



the  zinc  coating  the  iron  wires.  The  cable  itself  was  drawn 
through  hot  asphalte  heated  up  by  charcoal  fires.  This  plan 
was  tried  on  a  short  cable  to  the  Isle  of  Man  in  1859.  ^» 
however,  gave  a  good  deal  of  trouble  during  manufacture,  the 
insulation  becoming  seriously  damaged  by  the  process  :  as 
a  result  no  further  use  was  made  of  that  particular  method 
of  protection.  On  the  other  hand,  Sir  Charles  Bright's 
system  generally  commended  itself.  It  was  at  once  adopted 
in  the  construction  of  the  Pembroke  and  Wexford  (Irish) 
cable,  and  has  been  in  universal  use  ever  since.  Though, 
after  an  extensive  series  of  experiments,  Bright  arrived  at 

1860-1863  217 

an  improved  composition,  the  main  feature  in  his  device 
was  the  method  of  application.  Here,  instead  of  the  cable 
passing  through  the  hot  compound,  the  latter,  whilst  yet 
plastic,  is  poured  over  it  in  streams  by  an  elevator  from  a 
tank.  Furthermore,  inasmuch  as  this  process  is  performed 
simultaneously  with  the  laying  on  of  the  hemp,  or  jute, 
yarns — by  having  the  shaft  of  the  compound  apparatus 
geared  to  the  rest  of  the  cable  machine — the  delay  of  the 
double  manufacture  is  saved.  Moreover,  by  Bright's  de- 
vice, in  the  event  of  a  stoppage  the  supply  of  compound 

W      SL 

v                   _   * 

^       /  *"     **V 

A    V  •:•  ) 

xx     ^  / 


A  is  a  steam-jacketted  tank,  with  molten,  bituminous  compound  ;  B  B,  the  elevator — 
usually  an  endless  chain  worked  with  pulleys— dipping  into  the  tank.  The  cable  passes  under 
the  chain,  from  which  the  compound  drops,  by  gravity,  in  a  continuous  stream,  into  the  inclined 
chute  D,  and  so  on  to  the  cable. 

to  the  outside  of  the  cable  is  immediately  and  auto- 
matically arrested,  thereby  avoiding  damage  to  the  insula- 
tion— as  in  the  case  of  the  hot  compound  continuing  to  flow 
over  the  cable.  A  part  of  Sir  Charles'  method  consisted  in 
the  cable  being  finally — at  one  and  the  same  operation — 
drawn  between  semi-circular  rollers  under  a  stream  of  cold 
water.  By  this,  the  coating  is  thoroughly  pressed  into  all 
the  interstices  of  the  yarns  and  wires,  rendering  the 
outside  surface  hard,  even,  and  smooth — thereby  reducing  the 
co-efficient  of  friction  during  cable-laying  or  recovery  opera- 


tions.  The  success  attending  this  process — subsequently 
included  in  every  submarine  cable  specification — was  so 
great  that  up  to  the  time  of  the  expiry  of  Bright's  patent 
it  had  yielded  nearly  £30,000  to  Sir  Charles  and  his 

The  same  patent  also  included  an  improved  apparatus  for 
curbing  the  currents  sent  into  a  cable  for  signalling  purposes. 
This  was  an  arrangement  whereby  the  superabundant  (remain- 
ing) part  of  each  charge  communicated  to  the  line  was  to  be 
neutralised,  thereby  overcoming  the  effect  of  inductive  re- 
tardation to  the  signal  following  after — in  fact  clearing  the 
line  so  as  to  increase  the  working  speed  of  the  cable. 



The  Telegraph   to   India 

Retrospect  and  Preparations 

N  1862  Sir  Charles  Bright  was  called  upon  by  Govern- 
ment to  carry  out  another  important  achievement  of 
his  life — the  first  successful  and  permanent  telegraph  to 
India,  and  the  pioneer  cable,  electrically  speaking. 

Let  us  take  a  glance  at  the  situation  at  the  moment.  In 
the  first  place  it  was  considered  that  the  Governments  of 
England  and  India  should  be  brought  into  the  speediest 
possible  method  of  communication.  It  was,  indeed,  thought 
that  in  this  era  of  the  telegraph  the  countries  could  not 
any  longer  be  allowed  to  be  separated  by  thirty  days  of 
postal  service,  when,  by  the  agency  of  the  wires,  but  a  few 
hours  need  divide  them.  The  imperative  necessity  for 
electric  communication  between  this  country  and  the 
greatest  of  her  dependencies  had  actually  been  felt  for  years, 
not  only  by  Government — on  political  grounds — but  by 
the  great  mercantile  community  whose  enormous  business 
was  dependent  upon  our  Eastern  possessions.  So  urgently 
was  this  desired — and,  after  the  Mutiny,  so  essential  was 



the  telegraph  deemed  to  be  for  the  preservation  of  our 
position — that  in  1858  the  Red  Sea  and  India  Telegraph 
Company  had  been  formed  (with  a  guarantee  from  Govern- 
ment on  a  capital  of  £800,000)  to  lay  a  line  from  Suez 
down  the  Red  Sea  to  Aden,  and  thence  to  Karachi,  with 
intermediate  stations  at  Kassiri,  Suakin,  Hillainich  and 

Messrs.  R.  S.  Newall  &  Co.  were  the  contractors  for  the 
construction  and  laying  of  this  line,  Messrs.  Gisborne  & 
Forde  the  engineers,  and  Messrs.  Siemens  &  Halske  the 
electricians.  Though  for  a  very  different  depth  and  bottom, 
the  type  of  cable  adopted  was  somewhat  similar  to  that  of 
the  first  Atlantic  line.  The  route  was  not  sufficiently  sur- 
veyed by  soundings,  and  the  cable  was  too  slightly  made 
for  the  purpose.  It  was  once  spoken  of  as  being  "  like 
running  a  donkey  for  the  Leger  !  "  Being  laid  taut,  and 
here  and  there  across  reefs,  although  messages  were  trans- 
mitted through  each  separate  section  they  broke  down  in 
a  few  days,  and  were  never  worked  together  in  one  con- 
tinuous length  as  originally  intended.1 

A  new  Company  was  formed  in  1862  for  restoring  com- 
munication and  working  the  lines  of  the  "  Red  Sea  "  Com- 
pany. This  was  called  the  Telegraph  to  India  Company, 
to  which  Sir  Charles  acted  as  technical  adviser  ;  and  his 
report  on  the  subject  is  given  in  Appendix  6  of  Vol.  II 
of  the  original  biography. 

Though  the  cables  broke  down,  the  land  line  from  Alex- 

1  For  further  particulars  of  this  cable,  see  Submarine  Telegraphs  ; 
also  Old  Cable  Stories  Retold,  by  F.  C.  Webb,  M.Inst.C.E.,  The 


andria  to  Suez  was  worked  by  the  Telegraph  to  India 
Company  for  a  number  of  years.  Subsequently,  however, 
it  was  transferred,  writh  the  Egyptian  concessions,  to  the 
British  Indian  Submarine  Telegraph  Company,  on  the 
latter's  formation  in  1870.  The  Telegraph  to  India  Com- 
pany was  then  voluntarily  wound  up,  after  paying  a  fairly 
regular  dividend  of  3  per  cent. 

Under  the  somewhat  hasty,  and  perhaps  careless,  con- 
ditions agreed  to  by  Government  with  the  "  Red  Sea " 
Company,  the  interest  on  the  outlay  became  a  charge  on 
the  country  (till  1908)  to  the  extent  of  £36,000  per  annum. 
This  failure  was  naturally  a  heavy  blow  to  submarine 
telegraph  extension,  and  a  great  discouragement  to  the 
authorities.  Yet  the  demand  for  the  Indian  Telegraph 
became  more  and  more  pressing.  The  want  was  no  longer 
merely  confined  to  commercial  or  political  interests  :  it 
was  eminently  national.  The  Turkish  Government  were 
constructing  a  land  line  between  Constantinople  and 
Baghdad,  via  Scutari,  Angora,  Diarbekir,  and  Mosul ; 
and  an  agreement  was  come  to  by  Her  Majesty's  Govern- 
ment with  the  Sublime  Porte  for  special  wires,  as  well  as 
for  the  extension  of  the  telegraph  overland  from  Baghdad 
to  the  Shat-el-Arab  at  the  head  of  the  Persian  Gulf. 

Partly  at  the  instance  of  the  late  Sir  Henry  Rawlinson, 
K.C.B.,  it  was  at  first  proposed  to  erect  a  land  line  along 
the  Mekran  coast  of  the  Persian  Gulf  ;  but  Lieutenant- 
Colonel  Patrick  Stewart,  R.E.,1  who  had  been  especially 

1  The  "  Pat  Stewart  "  of  Mutiny  fame. 



despatched  to  Persia  regarding  the  matter,  reported  against 
its  practicability,  on  reaching  England  in  the  summer 
of  1862.  Meanwhile  Mr.  Latimer  Clark  had  returned 
after  fully  investigating  the  condition  of  the  damaged  and 
unworkable  cable  between  Suez,  Aden,  and  Karachi.  Mr. 
Clark's  investigations  went  to  show  that  it  was  impossible  to 
put  any  of  the  sections  into  working  order. 

In  view  of  these  authoritative  reports,  the  Government, 
together  with  the  India  Council,  determined  upon  laying  a 
submarine  cable  between  the  mouth  of  the  Shat-el-Arab— 
the  river  uniting  the  Tigris  and  Euphrates  in  their  flow 
into  the  Persian  Gulf — and  Gwadur  (or  Chubar),  the  most 
westerly  point  to  which  it  was  then  found  practicable  to 
extend  the  Indian  land  telegraphs.  It  was  afterwards  re- 
solved— in  consequence  of  the  workmen  on  the  Mekran 
land  telegraph  being  molested  by  the  natives — to  extend  the 
submarine  cable  from  Gwadur  to  Karachi,  thereby  avoiding 
the  vandalism  of  barbarous  and  then  unconquered  tribes. 
It  was  determined  to  divide  the  line  into  sections,  with  a 
station  at  Gwadur  on  the  Mekran  coast,  another  near  Cape 
Mussendom  on  the  Arabian  coast,  at  the  entrance  to  the  Gulf, 
and  a  third  at  Bushire,  on  the  coast  of  Persia. 

Notwithstanding  the  previous  careful  surveys  by  the 
officers  of  the  Indian  Navy — the  character,  as  well  as  the 
depth,  of  the  bottom  being  of  so  much  importance  in  regard 
to  the  permanence  of  a  submarine  cable — a  special  survey 
was  made  during  1862,  by  Lieutenant  (now  Captain)  A.  W. 
Stiffe,  of  what  was  then  called  the  Bombay  Marine.  On  the 
whole,  the  bed  of  the  Persian  Gulf  was  found  to  be  quite 
favourable  to  the  deposition  of  a  cable. 



The  Indian  Government  arranged  to  assist  the  Turks 
in  connection  with  the  erection  of  the  land  line  between 
Baghdad,  Bussorah,  and  the  mouth  of  the  Shat-el-Arab, 
and  also  agreed  with  the  Persian  Government — after  a 
survey  by  Major  Goldsmid1 — for  the  construction  of  an 
alternative  land  line  from  the  Turkish  frontier  to  Ispahan, 
Teheran,  Shiraz,  and  Bushire  on  the  Persian  Gulf,  where 

(Age  32) 

connection  would  also  be  made  with  the  cable.  Besides 
these  junctions  a  cross  line  was  to  be  made  to  provide 
against  interruption,  linking  Baghdad  with  Teheran  via 

The  Government  appointed  Colonel  Stewart  as  director 

1  Of  the  Madras  Staff  Corps,  and  afterwards  Major-General  Sir 
F.  J.  Goldsmid,  K.C.S.I.,  C.B. 


of  this  great  length  of  line.  They  also  appointed  Messrs. 
Bright  &  Clark  the  engineers  for  the  construction,  electrical 
testing,  and  laying  of  the  cable,  Sir  Charles  Bright  under- 
taking the  personal  supervision  of  the  entire  work. 


The  Design,  Construction,  and  Testing  of  the  Persian  Gulf 


Shortly  after  Colonel  Stewart  had  come  over  to  England,  an 
order  for  the  core  was  placed  with  the  Gutta-Percha  Company, 
of  Wharf  Road,  whilst  the  contract  for  the  rest  of  the 
manufacture  fell  to  Mr.  W.  T.  Henley,  of  North  Woolwich. 

The  Persian  Gulf  was  one  of  the  greatest  habitats  of  the 
teredo.  This  little  "auger  worm"  likes,  and  lives  on, 
woody  matter,  besides  having  an  affection  for  yarns  and 
gutta-percha.  Indeed,  it  appears  to  regard  the  submarine 
cable  as  a  sort  of  private  larder  provided  for  its  immediate 
use.  The  outer  spiral  wires  of  a  cable  are  sure  to  open  out 
slightly  under  the  strain  of  laying,  leaving  small  crevices,  of 
which  this  boring  worm  takes  advantage.  He  then  works  his 
way  through  the  yarn  and  gutta-percha,  to  the  copper 
conductor — thus  creating  an  electrical  leak  through  the 
hole  bored  in  the  insulation  of  the  cable.  The  teredo 
was,  in  fact,  at  that  time  the  deterrent  of  telegraphs  in 
warm  climates.  With  a  view,  then,  to  defeating  the  ravages 
of  this  objectionable  little  creature,  Sir  Charles  Bright 
added  a  proportion  of  powdered  silica  (made  by  grinding 
calcined  flints)  to  the  outer  covering  compound  already 
referred  to.  This  addition  was  found  to  effectually  damage 


the  boring  tool  of  the  teredo,  and  thus  frustrate  his  incur- 

We  now  come  to  the  improvements  introduced  in  the 
conductor  of  this  line.  In  the  earliest  submarine  cables  the 
copper  conductor  was  formed  of  solid  wire,  as  in  subterranean 
lines  ;  but  in  later  years  the  use  of  a  strand  of  seven  copper 
wires  had  been  introduced,  it  being  seen  that  a  weak  spot  in  a 
single  wire  would  interfere  with  the  working  of  the  line,  while 
it  was  not  likely  that  seven  separate  wires  would  develop 
flaws  at  the  same  point.  A  stranded  conductor  had,  however, 
the  disadvantage  of  presenting  a  greater  surface  for  a  given 
weight  (and  resistance)  of  copper  than  the  solid  wire  ; 
thus  the  retardative  efforts  of  induction  were  proportionately 

To  obviate  the  latter  defect,  a  conductor  built  up  of 
segmental  copper  bars,  with  an  outer  embracing  tube, 
was  adopted  for  this  cable.  To  quote  Sir  Charles'  words  : 
'  The  result  of  experiments  upon  this  form  of  conductor, 
compared  with  a  strand  made  of  the  same  copper  and  of  the 
same  gauge,  showed  that  the  new  device  preserved  equal 
mechanical  properties,  coupled  with  the  best  form  for 
electrical  requirements."  2  Less  inductive  retardation 
represented  greater  speed  of  message  transmission  through 
the  conductor  of  the  cable,  thereby  imbuing  it  with  a 
higher  earning  power. 

1  For  further  particulars,  vide  Note  on  "  Telegraphic  Communi- 
cation between  England   and   India  :     its   Present   Condition   and 
Future    Development,"    by    Charles    Bright,     F.R.S.E.     M.I.E.E. 
(Society  of  Arts  Journal,  vol.  xlii). 

2  The   Telegraph  to  India,  by  Sir  Charles  Tilston  Bright,  M.P., 
M.Inst.C.E.  (Mins.  Proc.  Inst.  C.E.,  vol.  xxv.,  1865-6). 


The  new  segmental  conductor  weighed  225  Ib.  to  the 
nautical  mile.  It  gave  a  good  deal  of  trouble — not  to  say 
expense — in  construction  l ;  for  instance,  even  when  drawn 
dowrn  to  wire,  the  joints  entailed  were  very  numerous. 

Special  care  was  taken  to  ensure  the  purification  of 
the  copper  used.  The  lowest  limit  of  specific  conductivity 
allowed  for  the  copper  was  76,  what  was  then  known  as 
"  pure  galvano-plastic  copper  "  being  taken  at  100.  The 
mean  conductivity  of  the  whole  line  was  thus  raised  to 
nearly  90  per  cent.  In  many  of  the  older  submarine  cables, 
which  were  laid  before  this  point  had  received  attention, 
the  conductivity  had  come  out  as  low  as  30  and  40. 

Let  us  now  turn  our  attention  to  the  insulation  of  the  con- 
ductor. In  testing  this  during  manufacture  certain  novel 
precautions  were  taken.  The  apparatus  was  much  more 
delicate  than  any  hitherto  employed  for  the  purpose,  and  the 
testing  of  joints  was  first  carried  out  on  this  occasion.  The 
joints  made  in  the  insulating  material  during  manufacture, 
and  in  the  finished  core,  had  always  been  the  subject  of  con- 
siderable anxiety  to  those  engaged  in  the  supervision  of 
submarine  telegraphs,  as  although  the  loss  on  a  single  joint 
might  be  so  small  as  hardly  to  affect  the  tests  obtained 
upon  a  considerable  length,  yet  dearly-bought  experience 
had  shown  that  the  defect  might  contain  within  it  the  seeds 
of  a  serious  fault  hereafter. 

Then,  again,  it  was  on  this  enterprise  that  condensers  were 
employed  for  the  first  time  in  cable  testing.  These  were 

1  The  result  is  that  we  now  adopt  modifications  of  this  principle 
for  the  conductors  of  our  ocean  cables — as,  for  example,  the  excellent 
device  of  the  late  Sir  William  Siemens. 


formed  of  plates  of  mica,  coated  on  each  side  with  tinfoil,  and 
having  a  standard  capacity  equal  to  that  of  one  mile  of  the 
Persian  Gulf  core.  These  were  found  very  permanent  in 
practice,  and  most  convenient  for  use.  The  measurements 
were  taken  after  one  minute's  electrification,  by  observing  the 
swing  of  the  suspended  needle  of  a  galvanometer,  and  the 
extreme  variations  in  the  several  coils  did  not  exceed  8  per 
cent,  above  or  below  the  average  capacity.  From  the  above 
data  it  was  easy  to  ascertain  the  inductive  capacity  of  any 
portion  of  the  cable  with  great  accuracy.  Thus,  in  one 
interruption  which  occurred  during  the  laying  of  the  cable— 
from  the  copper  wire  having  broken  within  the  gutta- 
percha — whereas  the  distance  of  the  fault  was  calculated 
at  9233  miles  off,  it  actually  proved  to  be  92*4  miles  distant. 
During  the  manufacture  of  the  core,  advantage  was 
taken  of  the  facilities  afforded  at  the  Gutta-Percha  Com- 
pany's works  for  trying  a  series  of  experiments  as  to  the 
effect  of  temperature  upon  the  conducting  power  of  gutta- 
percha  and  india-rubber.  It  had  long  been  known  that 
the  resistances  of  these  substances  varied  greatly  with 
changes  of  temperature  ;  but  the  exact  law  had  not  hitherto 
been  satisfactorily  determined. 

The  manufacture  and  testing  of  the  entire  line  was  under 
the  personal  supervision  of  Sir  Charles  Bright.  The  testing 
of  the  core  at  the  Gutta-Percha  Company's  works  was 
carried  out,  with  every  precaution  which  skill  and  experi- 
ence could  suggest,  by  Mr.  J.  C.  Laws  (the  senior  of  Messrs. 
Bright  &  Clark's  staff),  assisted  by  Mr.  Frank  Lambert. 
These  gentlemen — who  had  previously  served  Sir  Charles 


on  the  Atlantic  expeditions — were  also  to  look  after  the 
electrical  welfare  of  the  line  during  submergence. 

As  has  frequently  been  stated, 
this  was  the  first  cable  which  passed 
through  a  complete  system  of 
electrical  testing  during  the  various 
stages  of  manufacture.  It  must 
be  remembered,  however,  that  it 
was  almost  the  earliest  undertaking 
of  the  sort  following  after  the  sug- 
gestion of  Sir  Charles  and  his  part- 
ner at  the  British  Association  for 
definite  electrical  units  and 
standards  and  a  proper  system  of 
nomenclature.  It  was,  indeed,  the 
first  occasion  on  which  the  core 
was  tested  in  separate  (three-mile) 
lengths  under  water  ;  and  a  wholly 
unprecedented  degree  of  insulation 
was  obtained. 

The  external  protecting  coats, 
already  referred  to,  were  then  ap- 
plied. In  the  end  this  constituted 
one  of  the  most  efficient  and  dur- 
able cables  ever  devised,  and  con- 
siderably excelled  anything  up  to 
that  time. 

The  total  weight  of  the  cable  was  THE 


four  tons  per  nautical  mile.        For  (Main  type) 


the  shore-end  portions,  the  sheathing  wires  were  materi- 
ally larger,  bringing  the  weight  up  to  eight  tons.  Some 
of  this  contained  two  insulated  conductors,  to  enable 
one  sheathing  to  do  service  for  the  circuit  each  way  at 
an  intermediate  station. 

The  completed  cable  subsequently  received  a  coating 
of  whitewash  to  prevent  sticking,  and  was  then  coiled 
away  into  tanks  under  cover  and  filled  wdth  water,  the 
tests  being  continued  at  periodic  intervals  till  the  cable  was 
shipped.1  The  immediate  superintendence  of  this  branch 
of  the  work  was  carried  on,  under  Sir  Charles'  directions,  by 
Mr.  F.  C.  Webb,  M.Inst.C.E.,2  assisted  by  Messrs.  Thomas 
Alexander,  J.  E.  Tennison  Woods,  T.  Brasher,  T.  B. 
Moseley,  and  other  members  of  Messrs.  Bright  &  Clark's 

The  manufacture  of  the  core  was  commenced  by  the 
Gutta-Percha  Company  in  February,  1863,  and  the  1,450 
miles  of  cable,  weighing  nearly  7,000  tons,  was  completed 
by  Mr.  Henley  on  November  loth.  This  formed  by  far 
the  heaviest  length  ever  carried  in  a  submarine  telegraph 

It  was  coiled  into  five  large  sailing  vessels  and  a 
small  steamer.  In  addition  to  machinery  for  laying  the 
line,  these  vessels  were  all  fitted  with  iron  tanks,  in  which 

1  This  was  the  earliest  occasion  on  which  all  the  above  routine 
was  gone  through,  though  now  matters  of  common  practice. 

2  Mr.   Webb   had   been   connected   with   many  important  cable 
undertakings,  including  the  First  Atlantic.     He  was  now  the  chief 
of  the  engineering  staff  of  Messrs.  Bright  &  Clark. 


the  cable  was  coiled,  besides  a  small  engine  and  a  Gwynne's 
pump  for  filling  and  emptying  the  tanks.  The  ships  were 
severally  in  charge  of  Messrs.  E.  Donovan,  E.  D.  Walker, 
T.  B.  Moseley,  J.  E.  T.  Woods  and  J.  P.  E.  Crookes  as 
electricians,  who  kept  up  tests  of  the  cable  on  each  ship 
during  the  voyage  round  the  Cape  to  Bombay.  Some 
interesting  observations  were  taken  of  the  currents  pro- 
duced by  the  action  of  the  earth's  magnetism  on  the  coils 
of  cable  at  each  roll  of  the  vessel.  These  were  most  evident 
in  the  higher  latitudes,  became  invisible  at  the  equator,  and 
were  in  the  reverse  direction  in  the  southern  hemisphere. 
In  rough  weather  they  were  sufficiently  powerful  to  inter- 
fere seriously  with  the  measurements  of  the  conductivity 
of  the  copper  wire. 

Accompanied  by  Colonel  Patrick  Stewart,  R.E.,  Captain 
Colvin  Stewart  (a  younger  brother),  Dr.  Esselbach,  Mr. 
Hirz  and  Mr.  Mance,1  Sir  Charles  Bright  proceeded  to  the 
scene  of  action  by  the  overland  route  to  Bombay  towards 
the  end  of  November  (1863). 

1  Afterwards  Sir  H.  C.  Mance,  C.I. E.,  M.Inst.C.E.,  Past  President 
of  the  Institution  of  Electrical  Engineers. 


Laying  the  Cable 

An  outline  of  the  work  to  be  done  will  form  the  best 
preliminary  here.  Karachi  was  the  sea  terminus  of  the 
existing  Indian  telegraph  system  (to  Bombay,  Calcutta, 
Madras,  and  -other  main  towns)  at  the  north-west  corner 
of  the  great  peninsula.  Fao,  at  the  head  of  the  Persian 
Gulf,  was  the  sea  terminus  of  the  Turkish  telegraph  system, 
connected  with  the  systems  of  Continental  Europe  and, 
through  them,  with  England.  Karachi  is  distant  from 
Fao  about  1,250  miles.  It  was  intended  to  join  the  two  by 
submarine  cable  laid  in  four  sections,  in  round  numbers 
as  follows  :  Karachi  to  Gwadur,  300  miles  ;  Gwadur  to 
Mussendom  400  miles  ;  Mussendom  to  Bushire,  400  miles  ; 
Bushire  to  Fao,  150  miles.  The  first  section  to  be  laid 
was  that  from  Gwadur  to  Mussendom ;  and  the  ships 
immediately  engaged  were  to  rendezvous  on  February  4th, 
at  the  former  station,  whence  operations  would  com- 

As  soon  as  a  portion  of  the  telegraph  fleet  arrived  at 
Bombay,  Sir  Charles  and  Colonel  Stewart,  R.E.,  joined  them 
by  embarking  on  the  steamer  Coromandel,  the  flag-ship 
of  the  expedition. 

The  following  letter  from  Charles  Bright  to  his  wife  about 
this  time  gives  an  idea  of  the  way  the  time  was  passed 
after  reaching  India  (on  December  loth),  whilst  waiting 
for  the  ships  :— 

BOMBAY,    December  zSth,  1863. 

...  I  write  this  without  having  yet  heard  from  you  since 
the  letter  I  got  at  Marseilles.  .  .  . 


I  keep  very  well.  The  climate  is  delightful.  ...  I  have  had 
one  trip  into  the  interior  since  I  wrote  by  last  mail,  to  a  place 
called  Matherau,  about  sixty  miles  hence,  where  I  went  with  an 
old  schoolfellow,  Baker,1  who  found  me  out  here.  He  has  a 
bungalow  there,  and  I  stayed  a  couple  of  days  with  him.  It  was 
harder  work,  though,  than  I  had  expected,  but  well  worth  the 

First,  I  went  to  a  place  called  Narel  by  train  ;  then  I  had 
to  get  on  horseback  and  ride  nine  miles  up  hill.  At  the  top, 
about  2,000  feet  above  the  sea,  is  an  extraordinary  range  of 
mountains,  with  the  most  wonderful  view  I  have  ever  seen  in  the 
extent  of  country  they  command.  All  the  hillsides  are  covered 
with  trees  and  beautiful  wild  shrubs  and  flowers,  with  bridle 
paths  winding  about  in  every  direction.  It  is  much  cooler  there 
than  here,  and  in  the  hot  season  numbers  of  people  go  to  live 
there  as  a  sanatorium. 

Bombay  itself  has  little  to  recommend  it,  but  the  people 
are  very  hospitable.  On  Christmas  Eve  I  dined  with  the 
Governor,2  but  on  Christmas  Day  I  was  at  the  hotel — not  the 
place  I  should  have  chosen. 

For  the  last  week  I  have  been  very  busy,  owing  to  the  first  of 
our  ships,  the  Marion  Moore,  having  arrived.  (They  are  very 
slow  here  in  getting  work  done.)  You  will  be  glad  to  hear  that 
the  cable  in  her  is  all  in  excellent  order.  I  expect  to  get  off  in 
a  few  days  to  commence  work.  I  shall  write  before  leaving, 
but  the  letter  will  not  go  till  the  next  mail,  about  a  fortnight 

1  When  Mr.   Baker  came  to  call  on  Bright,  the  latter  did  not 
recognise  him  at  first.    Baker  then  reminded  Sir  Charles  that  they 
had  been  interrupted  in  a  fight  when  at  school,  whereupon  Charles 
said,   "  Let's  finish  it  now  !  "      If    they  had,  the  prospects  would 
have  been  very  different  ;    for  though  Baker  was  the  bigger  boy  as 
schoolfellows,   it  was  now  all  the  other  way,   the  subject  of  our 
biography  standing  6  ft.  i  in.  in  his  boots. 

2  The  late  Sir  Bartle  Frere,  G.C.B.,  G.C.S.I. 


My  movements  are  rather  uncertain,  and  it  is  probable  that 
you  may  not  get  any  letter  by  the  mail  following  the  next,  as  I 
shall  most  likely  be  on  the  Mekran  coast  without  any  means  of 
sending  a  letter  ;  but  it  is  also  possible  that  I  may  come  back 
here,  as  we  have  an  extra  steamer  which  I  can  use  for  the  pur- 
pose, if  my  plans  then  require  it.  ... 

The  above  was  followed  up  a  few  days  later  by  the  follow- 
ing :- 

BOMBAY,  January  ist,  1864. 

...  I  did  not  get  your  letter  of  the  2nd  until  the  3Oth,  the 
mails  being  delayed  and  very  late.  Captain  Dayman,  of  H.M.S. 
Hornet,  an  old  Atlantic  friend  of  mine  (he  took  the  soundings 
in  1857  in  the  Cyclops,  and  commanded  the  Gorgon  afterwards 
in  our  trip  in  1858),  is  going  to  Aden  about  some  risings  of  the 
Arab  tribes  between  there  and  Mocha,  and  I  take  this  chance 
of  writing. 

I  have  not  much  fresh  information  as  to  my  doings  or  move- 
ments to  communicate,  except  to  tell  you  of  the  delight  my 
dearest's  letter  gave  me  after  waiting  so  impatiently  for  it,  as  I 
have  spent  my  days  principally  at  the  Government  dockyard 
here,  and  on  board  the  Marion  Moore,  since  I  wrote. 

I  don't  find  folks  work  so  well,  either  at  the  head  or  foot  of 
departments,  here  as  in  England,  and  I  have  been  very  savage 
at  the  delays  I  find  in  getting  things  clone.  The  climate,  I  sup- 
pose, has  its  effect  on  people  after  a  long  stay,  or  else  they  don't 
like  working  between  Christmas  and  the  new  Year.  Whatever 
the  cause,  I  am  still  more  aggravated  to  find  that  there  is  general 
holiday  from  to-day  (Friday)  to  Tuesday  next.  This  has  delayed 
me  so  much  that  I  shall  now  probably  await  the  arrival  of  the 
second  ship,  the  Kirkham,  which  left  on  September  nth,  and 
ought  to  be  here  in  a  few  days. 

This  will  be  a  great  saving  of  time  ultimately,  as  I  shall 
have  the  two  ships  towed  on  to  the  scene  of  action  together,  but 
I  am  so  tired  of  Bombay — having  seen  nearly  everything  and 


everybody — that  I  am  eager  to  get  off,  and  to  work.  The  day 
I  got  your  letter  I  had  an  engagement  to  go  to  the  Governor's, 
to  meet  the  Ranee  Begum  of  Bhopal  at  a  sort  of  evening  levee, 
so  I  had  only  just  time  to  read  your  dear  letter  and  be  off,  leaving 
my  business  letters  and  Robert's  to  be  read  afterwards  ;  and  the 
newspapers  sent  me  from  the  office  (which  I  read  with  great 
appetite)  kept  me  afterwards  till  past  four,  having  got  back 
from  the  Governor's  at  half-past  twelve.  The  party  at  the 
Governor's  was  full  of  interest  to  me — much  more  so  than  his 
dinner-party  before,  which  was  subdued  and  ceremonial- — a  bad 
feature  in  dinner-parties. 

Her  Royal  Highness  the  Begum  is,  of  course,  looked  upon  as 
a  great  personage,  for  she  stuck  to  us  throughout  the  Mutiny, 
while  all  her  relatives  were  against  us.  She  has,  therefore,  been 
made  a  Knight  of  the  Star  of  India.  To  look  upon,  she  is  a  little 
dried-up,  brown,  loud-voiced  thing.  When  I  was  presented  to 
her  exalted  Majesty,  she  shook  hands  very  cordially  ;  and,  as 
Sir  Bartle  Frere  translated  her  lingo,  said  "  she  knew  all  about 
me,  and  about  telegraphs  too  !  "  so  I  did  not  think  it  needful 
to  give  her  any  further  information  on  the  two  subjects.  She 
had  some  important  Indian  personages  with  her.  Her  son-in- 
law,  the  Maharajah  of  something  or  another,  was  a  great  swell, 
with  gold  headpiece,  gold-cloth  clothes,  but  no  shoes  or  stockings 
(according  to  the  native  custom  here),  and  his  feet  and  ankles 
did  not  look  a  good  finish.  A  lot  of  meaner  stars — male  and 
female — of  the  native  sort,  made  up  the  suite. 

The  room,  a  very  grand  and  well-proportioned  one,  was  filled 
up  with  ladies  in  full  dress,  and  officers  of  every  kind  and  colour 
of  uniform,  which  made  the  scene  quite  amusing  to  me,  if  only 
from  its  novelty.  .  .  . 

On  the  Marion  Moore  and  Kirkham  reaching  Bombay 
with  sufficient  cable  for  the  section  between  Gwadur  and 
Mussendom,  Bright  took  charge  ;  and,  after  erecting  the 
machinery  on  deck  for  paying  out  the  cable,  they  were 


towed  to  Gwadur  by  the  Zenobia  and  Semiramis,  two  power- 
ful paddle-wheel  steamers  of  the  Government.  They 
anchored  after  seven  days'  cruise,  and  were  joined  by 
H.M.  Gunboat  Clyde,  and  also  found  the  rest  of  the  fleet 
awaiting  them,  a  few  days  in  advance  of  the  appointed  time. 
Gwadur  is  a  small  Beloochee  town  erected  on  a  sandy 
isthmus  between  two  very  lofty  and  precipitous  sandstone 
ranges.  The  inhabitants  are  neither  Arab,  Persian,  nor 

(From  a  sketch  by  Sir  Charles  Bright) 

Beloochee,  but  seem  to  be  a  mixed  race,  possessing  few  of 
the  distinctive  qualities  of  either  but  their  colour,  their 
dirt,  and  their  general  dislike  of  work. 

Having  landed  the  shore  end,  Sir  Charles  commenced 
on  February  4th,  1864,  laying  the  cable  towards  Mussendom, 
on  the  Arabian  side  of  the  Persian  Gulf,  from  the  Kirkham, 
in  tow  of  the  Zenobia,  the  screw-steamer  Coromandel 
(with  Colonel  Stewart  on  board)  piloting  the  course. 


The  expedition  skirted  along  near  the  mountainous 
cliffs  which  bound  the  Mekran  coast,  and  for  the  purposes 
of  description  we  will  now  follow  the  records  of  an  eye- 
witness, Mr.  J.  E.  Tennison  Woods,  who  acted  as  special 
correspondent  to  the  Daily  Telegraph  :— 

1  Nothing  could  exceed  the  perfect  regularity  with  which  the 
arrangements  acted.  The  cable  uncoiled  itself  with  absolute 
freedom  from  the  hold,  and  the  bituminous  covering,  instead  of 
proving  an  embarrassment  on  account  of  its  sticking  together, 
was  found  to  be  a  positive  advantage  in  keeping  the  cable  from 
springing  out  of  its  place,  and  in  preventing  the  wires — which 
occasionally  get  broken  in  passing  over  the  drum — from  escaping 
and  fouling  the  machinery,  a  species  of  accident  not  un- 
common in  paying  out  cables  unprovided  with  such  protection. 

There  are  always  considerable  difficulties  attendant  upon 
paying  out  cable  from  a  ship  towed  by  a  steamer.  In  the  first 
place,  it  is  impossible  to  stop  the  ship's  way,  alter  her  course, 
or,  indeed,  to  do  anything  in  case  of  an  emergency,  without  going 
through  the  laborious — and,  at  best,  very  uncertain — method 
of  signalling  either  by  lamps  or  flags.  This  difficulty  was  to  a 
great  extent  overcome  by  an  ingenious  adaptation  of  the  Morse 
alphabet  (as  used  by  all  the  telegraph  companies)  to  semaphore 
and  lamp  signals.  At  night  it  was  effected  with  a  bull's  eye 
lantern,  the  shutter  of  which  is  carried  on  the  end  of  a  small 
lever.  The  duration  of  time  the  light  is  exposed  is  made  to 
represent  the  "dot"  and  "dash"  of  the  Morse  code.  With  such 
skill  and  rapidity  were  these  instruments  used  on  board  both 
the  Kirkham  and  Zenobia  that  the  most  complicated  messages 
were  exchanged  by  flashes  of  light  between  the  steamer  and  the 
ship  in  tow,  at  the  rate  of  some  twenty  words  a  minute  ;  whereas 
by  means  of  the  Marryat  code  it  would  be  next  to  impossible 

1  Daily  Telegraph,  article  on  "  The  Anglo-Indian  Electric  Line," 
March  loth,  i  864. 


to  transmit  a  message  of  twenty  words  in  less  than  half  an  hour.1 
The  system  of  testing  adopted  during  the  submersion  by  Mr. 
Laws,  the  chief  electrician,  and  his  assistant,  Mr.  Lambert,  was  so 
perfectly  contrived  that  hardly  a  minute  elapsed  during  which 
the  line  was  not  under  electrical  examination.2  The  test  for 
insulation  was  kept  on  constantly,  the  current  being  reversed 
on  the  ship  every  half-hour.  For  testing  the  continuity  of  the 
conductor  a  condenser  was  charged  from  the  cable  end  every 
five  minutes,  and  then  discharged,  thus  giving  a  slight  and  sudden 
deflection  on  the  ship's  galvanometer.3  Thus  the  least  fault 
or  injury  occurring  during  the  process  of  submersion  would 
be  detected  before  it  was  too  late  to  remedy  the  defect. 
Everything,  indeed,  went  so  smoothly  that  Sir  Charles  Bright 
and  his  assistant  engineers  had  little  to  do  but  to  see  that 
the  already  perfect  arrangements  were  adhered  to.  The  cable 
was  paid  out  at  from  5  J  to  6  knots — a  rate  just  sufficiently  in 
excess  of  that  of  the  ship  to  allow  the  line  to  accommodate  itself 
to  the  inequalities  of  the  bottom. 

The  Kirkham  finished  paying  out  her  portion  of  the  cable 
on  the  morning  of  February  6th,  when  near  Jask.  The  most 
troublesome  part  of  the  business — the  transfer  of  the  staff, 
cable  hands,  stores  and  apparatus  of  the  Marion  Moore — 
was  then  successfully  carried  out  at  sea,  and  the  laying 
continued  across  the  entrance  to  the  Persian  Gulf. 

1  This  was  the  first  cable  expedition  on  which  Morse  Flag  and 
Lamp  signalling  were  made  use  of  by  day  and  night   respectively. 

2  On  this  occasion  the  Thomson  marine  galvanometer  was  used 
for   the  first  time.     Previously,    in    connection   with    the  Atlantic 
Cable,    Professor   Thomson    had     introduced    his    mirror   speaking 
instrument  ;    and  as  it  was  also — indeed  mainly — used  for  testing 
it  was  more  often  termed  a  galvanometer. 

3  The  above  plan,  with  modifications,  is  in  very  general  use  during 
cable-laying  operations  in  the  present  day.     It  originated  with  this 


Says  the  Daily  Telegraph  correspondent : — 

1  By  daylight  on  the  morning  of  the  Qth  the  lofty  mountains 
of  the  Arabian  coast  could  be  seen  towering  high  above  the  morn- 
ing mist,  apparently,  though  not  in  reality,  close  to  the  ships. 

The  ships  continued  to  approach  the  land,  but  no  opening  in 
what  appeared  to  be  an  unbroken  line  of  cliffs  was  visible,  until 
when  within  hardly  more  than  100  yards  of  the  shore  the  narrow 
entrance  to  Malcolm's  Inlet  came  in  sight.  After  passing  through 
this  natural  portal,  the  ships  of  the  squadron  steamed  up  the 
inlet,  enclosed  and  hemmed  in  on  all  sides  by  lofty  and  precipi- 
tous rocks  several  thousand  feet  in  height.  The  points  of  land 
overlapped  each  other  so  as  to  form  a  series  of  lakes,  which  might 
vie  with  the  wildest  parts  of  the  Highlands  for  savage  beauty. 
As  the  vessels  proceeded,  shotted  guns  were  fired — alike  to  inform 
the  Arabs  of  our  approach,  and  to  let  them  know  that  the  ships 
were  not  defenceless.  Nothing  could  exceed  the  strange  effect 
of  these  artillery  discharges,  reverberating  from  rock  to  rock  with 
the  sound  of  thunder  ;  each  gun  seemed  magnified  by  the  echo 
into  a  broadside. 

About  noon  the  vessels  arrived  at  the  head  of  the  inlet,  and, 
the  water  being  very  deep,  anchored  within  a  short  distance  of 
the  shore.  Several  days  were  occupied  in  erecting  a  land  line 
across  the  peninsula,  and  in  selecting  a  suitable  place  for  the 
erection  of  the  tents  for  a  temporary  station  here.  After  this, 
on  February  I3th,  the  end  of  the  cable  was  landed  at  this,  the 
hottest  region  on  earth,  and  electrical  communication  opened 
with  Gwadur,  distant  by  cable  370  miles. 

The  line  proved  to  be  in  splendid  order,  and  capable  of 
transmitting  messages  at  the  rate  of  twenty-five  words  per 
minute — a  speed  quite  unprecedented  in  a  submarine  cable 
of  such  length.  The  first  message  transmitted  was  to  Sir 

1  "  The  Anglo-Indian  Electric  Line." — Ibid, 


Charles  Bright  himself,  conveying  the  news  from  England 
of  the  birth  of  his  son  Charles.  It  ran  thus  : — From  Mr. 
Walton,1  Karachi,  4th  February,  3.7  p.m.,  to  Sir  Charles 
Bright,  Gwadur.'  I  send  you  the  following  from  The  Times 
of  2nd  January,  in  case  it  may  interest  you. 

On  December  25th,  at  12,  Upper  Hyde  Park  Gardens,  Lady 
Bright,  of  a  son." 

After  this,  communication  was  maintained  with  Bombay 
and  the  rest  of  India  throughout  the  laying  of  each  cable 

H.M.S.  Sinde — with  Colonel  Goldsmid,  who  had  surveyed 
the  Mekran  coast — and  the  Clyde  arrived  on  the  I3th.  The 
Zenobia  then  left  with  the  Marion  Moore  for  Bombay. 
Colonel  Stewart,  Sir  Charles  Bright,  and  Colonel  Disbrowe, 
the  Political  Resident  (or  Agent)  at  Muscat,  remained  at 
Mussendom,  to  arrange  difficulties  with  the  Arabs,  pending 
the  arrival  of  the  Tweed  and  Assay e  with  735  miles  of  cable 
to  continue  the  work.  More  than  a  month  was  spent  here,  the 
Arabs  giving  a  good  deal  of  trouble  throughout.  In  the  words 
of  Colonel  Goldsmid  :  "  Even  the  fishermen  were  reluctant 
to  bestow  their  friendly  offices  on  comparative  strangers 
without  at  least  the  guarantee  of  some  substantial  return 
for  the  privilege  they  considered  they  were  granting." 

One  of  the  expedition,  in  corresponding  for  The  Times 
of  India,  wrote  with  regard  to  the  experiences  off  Mussen- 
dom :— 

1  Mr.  H.  Izaak  Walton  was  the  Director  of  the  Mekram  Coast 

2  See  Telegraph  and  Travel,  by  Sir  F.  J.  Goldsmid,  C.B.,  K. C.S.I. 
(Macmillan  &  Co.,   1874). 


It  seems  very  doubtful  whose  territory  this  barren  country 
is  in.  Even  the  inhabitants  do  not  appear  to  know,  some  speak- 
ing of  a  Sheik  named  Ben  Suggar,  of  Ras  el  Kymer,  as  their 
rightful  ruler,  while  others  look  upon  the  head  of  their  villages  as 
"  without  superiors  on  earth,"  and  responsible  to  God  alone  ! 

The  Arabs  soon  began  to  flock  off  to  the  ships  in  very  original- 
looking  boats,  and  became  most  pressing  and  troublesome  in 
their  familiarities ;  but  as  it  was  highly  important  to  secure  good~ 
will  for  the  sake,  of  the  electricians,  signallers,  and  others  who  were 
to  be  on  shore  in  charge  of  the  "  repeating  "  station,  they  were 
treated  with  the  utmost  kindness,  and  no  effort  was  spared  to 
propitiate  them  by  presents  of  rice,  sugar,  coffee,  etc. 

Evidently  they  do  not  understand  the  meaning  of  quid  pro  quo  : 
for  when  asked  to  assist  in  landing  stores,  pitching  tents,  and 
building  one  or  two  wooden  huts,  though  promised  liberal  pay- 
ment in  money  or  food  for  doing  so,  they  showed  no  alacrity  to 
close  with  the  offer.  The  old  plan  of  paying  a  few  rogues  well 
to  watch  the  rest  has  succeeded  perfectly  hitherto,  the  charge  of 
all  the  stores  landed  having  been  entrusted  to  about  a  dozen 
Arabs.  The  policy  thought  best  is  to  secure  the  goodwill  of 
the  leading  men  by  making  it  their  interest  to  treat  our  people 
well.  Great  difficulty  is,  however,  experienced  in  finding  out 
who  are  the  real  chiefs,  for  the  local  politics  are  most  intricate  ; 
and  every  now  and  then  the  knots  into  which  they  get  are  so 
complicated  that  the  sword  is  deemed  the  only  means  of  solution  ! 

Here  we  will  again  quote  the  Daily  Telegraph  l :  - 
The  aspect  of  the  place  accorded  well  with  the  known  char- 
acter of  its  inhabitants,  who  are  wild  and  savage  in  the  extreme. 
These  intricate  and  tortuous  passages — running  as  they  do  into 
the  very  centre  of  the  mountain  fastnesses — are  indeed  well 
calculated  to  shelter  and  protect  the  desperate  hordes  of  pirates 
who  inhabited  them  a  few  years  ago  under  the  chief  of  Ras  el 
Kymer,  the  Sultan  Ben  Suggar.  What  the  inhabitants  were 

The  Anglo-Indian  Electric  Line." — Ibid. 



then,  so  they  are  now  in  disposition.  They  are  no  longer  open 
pirates,  because  piracy  does  not  pay.  The  unremitting  vigilance 
of  the  Indian  navy  ships  has  rendered  that  occupation  even  more 
precarious  than  the  uncertain  pearl  fishery.  But  these  men  are 
truculent  and  fierce,  and— following  out  their  old  traditions — 
would  always  rather  bully  for  an  advantage  than  obtain  it  in 
any  other  way. 

From  the  first  they  showed  strong  signs  of  objection  to 
the  expedition  ;  but  shortly  after  the  arrival  a  curious 
incident  occurred.  A  crowd  of  these  ruffians  had  assumed 
a  threatening  attitude  on  the  landing  of  Sir  Charles  with 
but  a  small  escort.  Having,  however,  read  that  Free- 
masonry was  current  among  the  Arabs,  and  being  a  member 
of  the  craft,  it  occurred  to  him  to  try  them  with  a  well- 
known  sign.  They  exhibited  some  astonishment  for  a 
moment  ;  but  on  its  repetition  several  answered  the  sign, 
and  at  once  became  warm  friends,  though  their  demon- 
strations of  fraternal  affection  involved  some  slightly  un- 
pleasant hugging  with  not  over  fragrant  "  brothers  "  ! 

There  can  be  no  doubt  that  when,  as  in  this  instance,  the 
masonic  signs,  symbols  and  fellowship  are  found  established 
in  the  desert  wilds  of  the  East,  the  craft  is  much  more  widely 
spread  over  the  globe  than  most  people — even  Freemasons — 
have  believed.  At  all  events  it  proved  a  good  thing  to 
voyage  with,  in  a  very  out-of-the-way  and  queer  place — a 
couple  of  thousand  miles  or  so  from  what  we  deem  civilisation. 
The  same  masonic  formula  being  current  among  a  most 
truculent  race  of  predatory  Arabs,  in  the  far  south-east 
corner  of  Arabia,  is  certainly  a  striking  instance  of  the 
widely-spread  character  of  Masonry. 

This   curious   demonstration   of  brotherly  love  did   not, 


however,  extend  beyond  Sir  Charles,  and  as  time  wore  on— 
while  waiting  for  the  other  cable  ships,  which  did  not 
arrive  for  several  weeks — the  suspicions  of  the  tribes 
increased,  and  their  attitude  became  more  and  more  hostile. 
They  probably  thought  from  the  continued  presence  of  the 
three  ships  of  war  that  some  permanent  annexation  was 
intended.  So  it  was  considered  desirable  to  make  some 
slight  demonstration  of  the  power  (or  rather  powder)  at 
command.  The  gunboat  Clyde  was  therefore  told  off  for 
target  practice  with  her  guns  at  the  face  of  a  rock  close  by 
the  landing-place.  The  smashing  effect  upon  the  cliff  of 
this  pounding  immediately  mollified  the  people,  and  modified 
their  views  as  to  their  powers  of  resistance.  They  had 
probably  never  heard  a  cannon  fired  before,  but  showed 
themselves  now  quite  capable  of  recognising  force  majeure. 
But  even  when  matters  were  arranged  later  by  Colonel 
Stewart  and  Colonel  Disbrowe,  it  was  a  case  of  much  "  back- 
shish."  A  sort  of  "  durbar,"  or  reception  of  chiefs,  and 
distribution  of  presents  was  held.  On  this  occasion  the 
chiefs — or  pretended  chiefs — attended  in  all  the  glory 
of  such  state  vestments  as  they  were  possessed  of,  and, 
after  considerable  chatter,  filed  out  apparently  satisfied 
with  what  they  had  received.  Those  who  had  come  first 
were,  however,  shortly  succeeded  by  another  batch  of 
claimants.  But  it  was  remarked  that  they  came  in  wearing 
identically  the  same  gorgeous  robes  of  office  as  their  pre- 
decessors had  displayed  ;  and  in  the  hurry  of  changing 
outside,  the  "  borrowed  plumes  "  didn't  fit  some,  making 
their  appearance  ridiculous,  and — to  say  the  least — consider- 
ably diminishing  the  dignity  of  their  "  get-up  !  "  They 


were  evidently  sent  in  by  the  real  "  head  men  "  with  the 
deliberate  intention  of  ascertaining  whether  by  this  means 
still  more  blackmail  could  not  be  extracted  ;  one  was 
indeed  recognised  as  the  boatman  of  a  sheik  !  When  accused 
by  the  interpreter  of  so  flagrant  an  act  of  impersonation, 
they  "  stormed  "  and  seemed  extremely  vexed  at  the  failure 
of  their  attempt  to  "spoil  the  giaours  " —though  not 
one  whit  ashamed  at  the  detection  of  their  trick.  They 
shambled  off  crestfallen — with  much  wagging  of  beard  and 
jaw  ! 

Of  course  the  tribes  had  to  be  propitiated  by  presents 
and  promises  of  periodical  payments  for  safeguarding  the 
staff  and  stations  after  the  expedition  had  left  ;  but  it 
required  considerable  knowledge  and  tact  to  deal  with  the 
right  headmen,  and  yet  not  to  give  more  than  absolutely 
necessary — difficult  points  to  decide  with  such  ruffians, 
who  were  quite  disposed  to  "  slit  throats  "  on  small  pro- 
vocation. Notwithstanding  the  amicable  relations  thus 
temporarily  established  with  the  shore  "  ruffs,"  it  was 
decided  not  to  leave  the  staff  and  stores  at  their  tender 
mercies  on  the  mainland,  after  the  squadron  was  withdrawn. 
A  station  was  therefore  established  on  a  small  rocky  island 
nearly  a  mile  from  shore,  in  Elphinstone  Inlet,  and  about  a 
quarter  of  a  mile  long.  Two  armed  hulks,  the  Euphrates  and 
Constance,  were  then  moored  off  the  island,  and  the  gunboat 
Clyde  was  left  on  guard. 

On  March  i8th,  the  expedition  started  for  Bushire  on  the 
Persian  side  of  the  Gulf,  the  cable  being  laid  from  the  Tweed 
in  tow  of  the  Zcnobia.  Some  very  rough  weather  was 


encountered,  and  at  one  time  it  was  doubtful  whether  Sir 
Charles  would  not  be  driven  to  cut  and  buoy  the  cable. 
The  steamer  was  only  able  to  tow  the  ship  at  a  speed  of  two 
knots,  but  they  managed  to  pull  through  till  the  storm 
abated.  Afterwards  the  paying  out  was  transferred  to 
the  sailing  ship  Assay e,  and  by  daylight  on  March  23rd 
the  snow-capped  mountains — some  12,000  feet  high,  behind 
Bushire — shone  in  the  morning  sun.  The  anchorage  was 

[From  a  Sketch  by  SIR  CHARLES  BRIGHT] 

reached  shortly  afterwards,  the  430  miles  laid  from  Mussen- 
dom  being  in  splendid  order.  After,  a  close  inspection  by 
Bright,  in  conjunction  with  Colonel  Stewart,  the  exact 
spot  for  landing  the  cable  was  determined,  and  the  section 
satisfactorily  put  through  on  March  24th. 

A  propos  of  the  arrival  in  Bushire,  the  Daily  Telegraph 
correspondent  wrote  l : — 

1  "The  Anglo-Indian  Electric  Line." — Ibid. 


It  is  curious  what  changes  and  vicissitudes  a  place  will  see  in 
the  course  of  a  very  few  years.  It  is  not  quite  seven  years  since 
that  these  same  ships  anchored  in  the  very  same  place  for  the 
purpose  of  landing  the  British  force  destined  for  the  siege  of 
Bushire  during  the  Persian  war.  Although  their  present  mission 
was  so  different,  it  was  evident  that  the  inhabitants  did  not  feel 
at  all  certain  of  our  pacific  intentions,  for  it  was  some  time  before 
any  boats  came  off.  Those  that  did,  for  a  long  time  kept  clear 
of  the  Assaye,  she  having  been  one  of  the  vessels  most  actively 
employed  in  the  destruction  of  the  Persian  batteries  in  1857— 
as  many  a  patched  and  torn  plank  in  her  deck  testifies. 

The  town  of  Bushire  itself  does  not  appear  to  have  suffered 
commercially  from  the  English  bombardment.  The  ruined 
buildings  and  fortifications  still  remain  unrepaired,  but  the 
material  prosperity  of  the  place  has  augmented  manyfold. 

After  the  landing  of  the  second  shore  end,  the  squadron 
started  on  the  morning  of  March  26th  for  Fao — some  150 
miles  distant — at  the  far  end  of  the  Persian  Gulf,  where  the 
mouths  of  the  great  rivers  Euphrates  and  Tigris  converge. 

Considerable  difficulty  occurred  in  landing  the  shore  end 
of  the  cable  at  Fao,  and  connecting  it  with  the  floating 
station  moored  off  the  entrance  to  the  Tigris,  owing  to  the 
shallowness  of  the  water  and  extent  of  deep  mud  banks.1 
When  the  ship  had  got  in  as  far  as  was  possible  there  were 
still  some  six  to  eight  miles  of  these  mud  banks  between 
her  and  the  beach.  Thus  the  cable  could  only  be  landed 
in  comparatively  flat-bottomed  vessels.  To  assist  in  this 
work  the  Comet,  of  the  Bombay  Marine  Service,  was  re- 
quisitioned. To  make  room  for  the  cable,  she  had  to  disem- 

1  This  was,  in  fact,  the  most  arduous  feature  of  the  whole  ex- 


bark  her  guns  and  coal,  this  operation  occupying  as  much 
as  fourteen  days.  The  work  was  commenced  on  April  5th, 
after  several  days  had  been  occupied  by  Sir  Charles  and 
Colonel  Stewart  in  exploring  the  locality,  so  as  to  determine 
the  course  to  be  pursued. 

1  About  five  miles  of  cable,  weighing  some  twenty  tons,  were 
distributed  among  ten  of  the  largest  boats  belonging  to  the  fleet. 
When  something  like  four  miles  had  been  paid  out,  the  boats 
grounded.  Though  there  was  very  little  water  there  was  a  great 
depth  of  mud,  of  about  the  consistency  of  cream.  There  was  no 
use  in  hesitation,  the  cable  must  be  landed  at  any  risk,  so  Sir 
Charles  Bright  set  an  example  to  his  staff  and  the  men,  and  was 
the  first  to  get  out  of  the  boat  and  stand  up  to  his  waist  in  the 
mud.  This  example  was  followed  by  all  the  officers  and  men 
— upwards  of  a  hundred  in  number — who  were  soon  wal- 
lowing in  the  soft  yielding  slush  up  to  their  chests,  but  still 
dragging  the  end  of  the  cable  with  them.2 

The  progress  through  such  a  material  was  necessarily  slow — 
half  swimming,  half  wading.  It  was  impossible  to  rest  for  a 
moment  without  hopelessly  sinking  below  the  surface  ;  yet  no 
one  thought  of  abandoning  the  cable.  Though  it  was  only 
two  o'clock  when  the  party  left  the  boats,  it  was  nearly  dark 
before  the  last  man  reached  the  shore.  Several  sank  so  deeply 
in  places  when  attempting  to  stand  upright  on  approaching  the 
beach  that  they  were  compelled — as  the  only  practical  mode  of 
progression — to  throw  themselves  down  and  crawl  like 
turtles.  All  were  grimed  with  mud,  and  nineteen  out  of  twenty 
were  nearly  naked,  having  left  or  abandoned  almost  every  article 

1  The  Times. 

2  Some   idea   of   this   performance   may   be   gathered    from   our 
illustration — which   appeared   in  the    Illustrated   London   News   at 
the  time — from  a  sketch  made  by  an  eye-witness,  in  which    Sir 
Charles  is  shown  directing  operations  on  the  left. 



of  their  clothing  in  the  effort  to  reach  the  shore.    But  in  spite 
of  obstacles  the  cable  was  landed. 

Just  as  the  troubles  of  the  landing  party  appeared  to  be  over, 
it  was  found  that  the  ships  of  the  expedition,  which  were  waiting 
to  receive  them  in  the  Tigris,  lay  at  the  other  side  of  a  mud 
bank — onlv  a  little  less  fluid  than  that  which  had  just  been  passed, 

LANDING    THE    CABLE    IN    THE    MUD    AT    FAO 

(From  the  Illustrated  London  News) 

and  four  miles  in  extent  !  To  make  matters  worse,  a  thunder- 
storm, truly  tropical  in  its  violence,  was  raging  ;  and  the  tide, 
which  washes  the  banks,  was  rapidly  rising.  The  party,  however, 
made  a  dash  for  it,  and  all  succeeded  in  reaching  the  ships,  with 
the  exception  of  one  of  the  Lascars,  who  was  overwhelmed  by  the 
mud  and  tide,  and  sank  before  assistance  could  reach  him.  The 
remainder  were  much  exhausted — some,  indeed,  having  to  be 
carried  by  their  companions.  Even  when  the  solid  part  of  the 
bank  was  reached,  the  cable  had  to  be  cut  into  mile  and  a  half 
lengths,  carried  on  the  backs  of  several  hundred  Arabs,  and  then 
joined  up  again. 


As  an  instance  of  the  kindly  thoughtfulness  always 
evinced  by  Sir  Charles  towards  his  colleagues,  on  the  shore 
trenchings  being  finished,  Sir  Frederick  Goldsmid  says, 
in  his  interesting  book,1  alluding  to  Captain  Bradshaw 2 
and  himself—  !t  When  the  superintending  officers  returned 
to  their  tent  in  the  afternoon,  they  found  half  a  dozen  of 
champagne,  a  huge  joint  of  wild  hog,  and  the  following 
letter  in  pencil— 


MY  DEAR  GOLDSMID,—  April  gth, 

I  send  a  very  solid  piece  of  wild  boar  and  some  champagne 
for  you  and  Bradshaw  to  drink  good  luck  to  the  cable  with,  as 
you  cannot  be  here.  We  are  going  to  have  a  salute  and  dress 
ships  at  noon.  Hurrah  !  ! 

Yours  sincerely, 

C.  B. 

In  the  book  referred  to,  Sir  Frederick  Goldsmid  says  much 
about  the  days  passed  on  the  monotonous  sea  shore  and 
amid  the  dilapidated  out-buildings  at  Fao,  or  Fava,  a  place 
barely  existing  but  for  the  Indo-European  Telegraph 

Swamps,  flats,  ditches ;  here  and  there  a  dwarf  tree  or  shrub  ; 
men  and  things  disturbed  and  exaggerated  by  a  marvellous 
mirage.  Such  was  indeed  the  scene  at  the  mouth  of  the  Shat-el- 
Arab  and  Khor  Abdullah.  The  fort  itself  was  an  old  tumble- 
down mud  building,  rising  from  a  swamp,  used  mainly  as  a  burial 

1  Telegraph  and  Travel. 

2  Captain    Bradshaw    (afterwards    Vice- Admiral    Richard    Brad- 
shaw, C.B.)  was  serving  as  a  surveying  officer,  and  had  accompanied 
the  expedition  on  one  or  other  of  the  pilot  vessels. 


His  diary  will  also  be  of  some  interest  here  in  connection 
with  a  visit  to  this  fort.  He  says  : — 

By  aid  of  a  canoe  we  make  our  way  into  the  fort  ;  but  on  striking 
off  to  seaward  get  into  a  muddy  dilemma.  One  or  two  of  us  take 
off  shoes  and  stockings  and  plunge  in.  All  very  well,  so  far  as 
it  goes,  for  the  soft  mud  ;  but  not  so  for  the  hard-baked  soil, 
which  cuts  unmercifully  into  the  feet.  Walk  some  four  miles 
and  get  well  out  to  sea,  facing  our  old  anchorage,  and  seeing  the 
ships  about  seven  miles  off  in  the  Khor  Abdullah.  SirC.  B.  and 
Colonel  S.  out  the  furthest,  but  all  have  a  pretty  good  spell. 

A  fault  in  the  Bushire-Fao  cable  presented  itself  soon 
after  it  had  been  laid  ;  only  the  very  feeblest  signals  could 
be  got  through,  and  these  only  at  intervals.  This  pointed 
to  a  break,  or  partial  break,  in  the  conductor,  though 
testing  perfectly  up  to  the  time  of  submergence.  It  was 
supposed  afterwards — based  on  the  tests  made  by  Mr. 
Laws — that  the  conductor  must  have  been  broken  1  during 
the  construction  of  the  cable,  the  broken  ends  remaining  in 
contact  when  the  cable  was  submerged.  The  reduction  of 
temperature,  in  contracting  the  copper,  would  then  have 
sufficed  to  separate  the  broken  ends,  and  so  interfere  with 
electric  continuity. 

Sir  Charles  effected  a  repair  of  the  defect  with  a  rapidity 
and  certainty  which  Colonel  Stewart  justly  described  as 
"  an  excellent  instance  of  the  thorough  efficiency  with  which 
the  work  has  been  performed."2  Colonel  Stewart  adds : 

1  As  it  happened  the  conductor  in  this  section  was  a  solid  wire, 
being  made  before  the  adoption  of  the  segmental  type.     It,  there- 
fore, had  not  the  advantages  of  greater  pliability  and  immunity 
from  complete  interruption. 

2  Lieut. -Colonel   Patrick  Stewart  to  Secretary  to  Government. 
Bombay,  June   nth,   1864. 


'  The  position  of  the  fault  was  calculated  and  laid  down 
with  a  nicety  which  has  never  been  surpassed.  The  course 
of  the  cable  was  so  accurately  denned  by  the  surveying 
officers,  and  the  vessels  sent  on  the  repairing  trip  so  skil- 
fully navigated,  that  the  buoy  intended  to  show  the  presumed 
position  of  the  fault  was  actually  laid  down  by  the  Zenobia 
within  less  than  a  quarter  of  a  mile  of  its  true  position." 

'  This  defect  of  manufacture  was  responsible  for  the  only 
hitch  experienced  during  the  whole  of  the  operations." 

The  remaining  section  of  the  cable  between  Gwadur  and 
Karachi  was  afterwards  successfully  laid  by  Mr.  F.  C.  Webb, 
with  Messrs.  Woods,  Alexander,  and  Moseley,  out  of  the 
Assay e  and  Cospatrick,  during  April  and  May,  in  the  absence 
of  Sir  Charles  Bright.  The  latter  went  to  Baghdad  with 
Colonel  Stewart,  R.E.,  and  Major  Champain,  R.E.,1  for  the 
purpose  of  endeavouring  to  arrange  for  the  completion  of 
the  land  line  from  Fao,  which  had  been  interfered  with 
by  the  Montefic  Arabs.  On  this  subject  Colonel  Stewart 
reported  to  the  Indian  Government  as  follows  :— 

So  much  having  been  completed,  it  remained — in  accordance 
with  the  original  programme — to  extend  the  submarine  line  from 
Gwadur  eastward  to  the  frontier  of  British  possessions  at  Ras 
Mooaree  (Cape  Monze),  some  twenty  miles  west  of  Karachi. 
We  thereby  rendered  the  vitally  important  link  between  the 
Indian  system  of  telegraphs  on  the  one  side  and  those  of  Turkey 
and  Persia  on  the  other,  more  secure  than  would  have  been  pos- 
sible had  the  efficiency  of  the  whole  chain  of  communication 

1  Afterwards  Sir  John  Underwood  Bateman-Champain.  K.C.M.G., 
Director-in-Chief  of  the  Indo-European  Telegraph  Department. 

252     ,       SIR   CHARLES   TILSTON    BRIGHT 

been  permitted  to  depend  on  a  land  line  passing  through  such  a 
country  as  that  between  Karachi  and  Gwadur. 

In  the  meantime,  however,  it  was  absolutely  necessary  for  me 
to  proceed  at  once  to  Baghdad  regarding  the  completion  of  the 
line  between  Bussorah  and  Baghdad,  and  the  introduction  of 
certain  essential  reforms  in  the  system  of  maintaining  and  work- 
ing the  telegraph  to  the  westward  of  the  latter  city.  I  was, 
therefore,  obliged  to  make  special  arrangement  for  superin- 
tending the  laying  of  the  Gwadur-Karachi  cable  during  my 
absence.  Fortunately,  the  qualifications  of  Mr.  F.  C.  Webb, 
the  senior  of  Sir  Charles  Bright's  engineering  staff,  were  such 
that  there  was  no  need  for  hesitation  in  entrusting  him  with 
this  duty.  At  the  same  time  I  was  enabled  to  take  advantage 
of  Sir  C.  Bright's  offer  to  accompany  me  to  Baghdad,  and  to 
secure  the  advantage  of  his  experience,  while  considering  with 
Colonel  Kemball  the  various  proposals  for  effecting  improve- 
ments in  the  Turkish  telegraphs. 

An  idea  of  the  travellers'  experiences  can,  perhaps,  be  best 
gathered  from  Sir  Charles'  letter  to  his  wife  a  short  time 
after  their  arrival  at  Baghdad. 

April  2$th,  1864. 

...  I  have  come  up  here  from  the  gulf  with  Colonel  Stewart 
and  Major  Champain  after  getting  all  the  important  part  of  the 
cable  laid  most  satisfactorily.  The  land  lines  hereabouts  are  not 
as  satisfactory,  but  time  will  get  them  right.  The  Turks  are 
very  tiresome  people  to  deal  with,  and  never  keep  their  engage- 

You  will  have  heard  of  the  laying  of  the  cable.  I  have  written 
very  fully  about  all  that  to  Clark  at  the  office,  and  have  asked  him 
to  give  it  to  Robert  for  you  to  read,  as  you  will  like  to  do  so, 
and  the  repetition  of  it  would  be  a  rather  long  affair.  .  .  .  After 
laying  the  cable  to  the  head  of  the  Gulf,  and  having  a  desperately 
hard  job,  I  came  up  here,  as  all  the  land  communication  between 


this  and  the  Gulf  is  at  a  standstill  through  the  Turks  and  Arabs 
fighting  together — a  very  great  drawback  to  us — and  the  Turks, 
as  usual,  are  in  the  wrong,  and  won't  give  way.  The  river  Tigris, 
through  which  we  come,  is  not  very  interesting,  except  from  the 
associations  connected  with  this  part  of  Mesopotamia. 

At  Korna — where  the  Tigris  and  Euphrates  joining  form  one 
river,  the  Shat-el-Arab — is  situated  the  supposed  site  of  the 
Garden  of  Eden.  Everybody  here  assures  us  it  is  the  very  garden, 
so  we  landed  and  examined  it.  It  is  full  of  the  usual  palm  trees, 
dates,  roses,  etc.,  which  we  find  everywhere  here,  and  a  dirty 
Arab  village  and  ruined  mosque,  with  a  single  minaret,  of  some 
pretensions  as  regards  taste,  standing.  Bussorah,  a  little  below 
Komeh,  is  a  good-sized  town.  If  you  took  Johnnie  to  any  day 
performance  at  Drury  Lane  I  see  you  would  have  a  scene  of  the 
port  of  Bussorah  in  Sinbad  the  Sailor,  and  probably  another  of 
Baghdad.  All  the  old  stories  in  the  Arabian  Nights  are  taken 
from  this  part  of  the  country,  which  was  once  the  richest  and 
greatest  in  the  world. 

A  little  above  Komeh  is  Ezra's  tomb  on  the  banks  of  the  river. 
Here  he  lived  and  died  after  taking  the  Jews  back  from  the  Baby- 
lonian captivity.  Baghdad — where  I  am  writing  in  an  old- 
fashioned  room  looking  direct  over  the  river — is  a  large  city,  some- 
thing like  Cairo.  There  are  several  large  mosques  and  long  rows 
of  shops  under  cover,  in  the  bazaar.  Still,  the  general  effect  is 
similar  to  the  Lowther  Arcade,  but  low,  dirty,  nasty  smelling 
and  unpaved.  This  bazaar  is  quite  full  of  people  of  all  kinds — 
some  dressed  in  colours,  some  nearly  naked  :  I  saw  one  man 
quite  so. 

Everybody  pushes  and  shouts,  so  that  it  is  impossible  to  go 
there  except  on  horseback,  which,  as  it  is  only  a  few  feet  wide, 
adds  to  the  confusion.  Fancy  half  a  dozen  men  on  horses  riding 
through  Burlington  Arcade  full  of  people  !  Everything  is  done 
here  by  Europeans,  or  persons  of  any  importance,  on  horse- 
back ;  and  the  same  in  Persia,  as  there  are  no  carriages  any- 
where— or,  indeed,  roads  wide  enough  for  them. 

To-night  I  go  to  dine  with  the  Pasha,  in  state,  with  all   our 


party.  To-morrow  he  dines  here  with  Colonel  Kemball,  the  British 
(Political)  Resident,  whose  guests  we  are,  and  who,  I  must  say, 
treats  us  exceedingly  well — providing  rooms,  horses,  attendants 
in  uniform  and  armed  to  go  out  with  us,  and  feeding  us  sump- 

It  is  rather  a  treat  to  get  ashore  for  a  bit  and  lie  down  in  a  real 
bed  after  being  "  penned  up  "  on  board  ship  in  a  narrow,  close 
berth — not  long  enough  for  my  unmanageable  legs — for  three 
months  at  a  stretch. 

I  so  like  to  read  all  you  tell  me  of  yourself  and  the  bairns. 
I  am  longing  to  get  home,  and  hope  to  catch  the  mail  of  May  24th 
from  Bombay.  .  .  . 

I  shall  take  a  long  rest  and  be  very  idle  when  I  return  till  the 
shooting  begins.  .  .  . 

Then  I  shall  probably  want  to  go  to  the  South  of  France  to 
look  at  our  mines  there  before  the  winter  sets  in.  ... 

PS. — I  have  had  some  good  deer  and  boar-shooting  on  the 
river-banks  and  on  Tomb  Island,  but  it  is  too  hot  for  much  exer- 

We  will  now  return  to  the  laying  of  the  last  section— 
from  Gwadur  to  Cape  Moaree,  near  Karachi — which  was 
fully  reported  on  by  Mr.  F.  C.  Webb,  who  was  left  in  charge 
of  operations. 

During  this  part  of  the  work  a  most  exciting  incident 
occurred,  which  was  described  as  follows  in  The  Engineer  :— 

Whilst  paying  out  cable  on  the  evening  of  April  4th,  with  very 
little  warning,  the  ships  were  struck  by  a  tremendous  squall  from 
the  W.N.W.,  accompanied  by  rain,  lightning,  and  a  fearful  quan- 
tity of  fine  sand,  which  enveloped  everything  in  the  most  solid 
darkness.  So  intense  was  the  obscurity,  that  the  Assay e  was 
driven  nearly  on  to  the  Zenobia ;  and  although  she  was  close 
under  the  bows  of  the  Assay  e  not  a  vestige  of  her  lights  could  be 
perceived.  Just  before  the  total  eclipse,  as  the  squall  came,  the 


message,  "  Webb  to  Carpendale  "  :  "  Don't  get  blown  into  deep 
water  "  was  sent,  and  then  all  signalling  was  at  an  end,  and 
everything  total  darkness.  Both  ships  "  broached  to  "  and 
headed  in  for  the  land  in  spite  of  their  helms  being  hard  up. 
The  full  force  of  the  wind  came  on  them  thus,  right  on  the  beam. 
The  awning  of  the  Assay e  was  caught  underneath  by  the  wind, 
and  carried  away  with  a  report  like  a  gun — snapping  all  the 
heavy  iron  stanchions  to  which  the  ridge-chains  were  secured, 
and  dashing  chains,  etc.,  down  on  deck,  fortunately  without 
doing  any  injury  to  life  or  limb.  The  paying-out  machinery  was 
completely  buried  in  the  wreck.  It  is,  indeed,  a  wonder  that 
nothing  happened  to  the  cable,  seeing  that  for  some  time  the 
ridge- chain  was  actually  resting  on  the  drum  of  the  brake,  which 
was  revolving  at  the  rate  of  forty-five  revolutions  a  minute. 
This  was  a  pretty  good  test  for  the  mechanical  arrangements, 
which  continued  to  act  as  perfectly  as  if  the  ships  had  only  been 
going  three  knots — instead  of  eight  and  a  half.1 

While  laying  the  cable  from  Gwadur,  a  number  of  joints 
failed  through  air-bubbles  developing,  and  these  had  to  be 

On  May  i6th,  this  last  section  (about  250  miles)  was  com- 
pleted in  the  presence  of  Sir  Charles  Bright  and  Colonel 
Stewart,  who  had  come  in  the  Coromandel  from  Baghdad, 
leaving  Major  Champain  to  attend  to  further  matters 

A  land  line,  twenty-four  miles  long,  had  previously  been 
erected  from  Cape  Monze  to  Karachi,  and  communication 
over  this— the  final  link  of  the  Persian  Gulf  cable  system- 
was  thus  established. 

A  banquet  was  held  to  celebrate  the  successful  completion 
of  the  work. 

1  The  Engineer,  August  i2th,   1864. 


After  this  Bright  left  Karachi  for  Bombay  in  the  Coro- 
mandel,  with  Colonel  Stewart  and  staff. 

On  May  24th,  Sir  Charles  left  in  the  P.  &  O.  steamer  Behar, 
homeward  bound,  accompanied  by  Mr.  Laws  and  the  rest  of 
his  staff,  with  the  exception  of  Mr.  F.  C.  Webb,  who  remained 
to  carry  out  final  arrangements  for  the  working  of  the  line. 

Lastly,  on  June  24th,  Colonel  Stewart  sailed  for  Constan- 
tinople, after  all  the  various  vessels,  except  the  Amber 
Witch,  had  been  discharged  from  Government  employ. 

The  Land  Line  Connecting  Links 

Bright  reached  home  during  the  last  week  of  June,  only 
to  find  his  wife  in  a  poor  state  of  health. 

Within  a  few  weeks  the  family  went  to  a  riverside  cottage 
at  Datchet  for  entire  rest  and  change,  the  effect  of  \vhich 
was  highly  beneficial.  Here  the  time  was  mostly  spent  in 
boating  on  the  Thames,  in  which  Sir  Charles  was  accom- 
panied by  his  brother  Edward  and  other  friends. 

Very  soon,  however,  there  began  to  come  disquieting 
news  regarding  the  working  of  the  line  between  Europe 
and  the  cables  which  had  just  been  laid  under  Bright's 
immediate  supervision. 

It  was  expected  that  the  Turkish  land  line  between 
Baghdad  and  the  head  of  the  Persian  Gulf  would  have 
been  completed  simultaneously  with  the  submersion  of 
the  cable  ;  but  a  considerable  part  of  the  broad  tract  of 
country — 400  miles  in  extent — between  the  ancient  city 
of  the  Caliphs  and  the  miserable  village  of  Shat-el-Arab 


(at  the  junction  between  the  Tigris  and  Euphrates)  is  in- 
habited by  predatory  Arab  tribes,  incessantly  quarrelling 
one  with  another  and  mutually  defying  the  Turks,  their 
nominal  masters.  Backshish — in  the  form  of  subsidies 
—was  the  only  way  to  quiet  these  rapacious  vagabonds. 
It  was  not  until  the  commencement  of  1865  that  their 
state  of  chronic  revolt  against  the  Turkish  Government 
could  be  put  an  end  to,  and  the  line  carried  through. 

The  arrangements  eventually  made  by  Major  Champain 
with  the  sheiks  of  the  troublesome  Montefic  tribes,  for 
safeguarding  the  land  line  between  Fao  and  Baghdad, 
were  based  on  the  rule  of  procedure  often  employed  with 
eastern  doctors,  who  only  get  "  feed  "  while  their  patient 
is  well.  As  described  by  Captain  Huish  : — 

At  every  six  miles  an  Arab  guard  was  employed,  who  was 
paid  155.  or  i6s.  per  week,  but  this  pay  was  stopped  if  anything 
happened  to  the  telegraph.  Thus,  in  addition  to  the  exercise 
of  his  ordinary  marauding  propensities,  this  Arab  received  a 
handsome  income  ;  and  the  guards  took  care  that  their  brother 
Arabs  did  the  telegraph  no  harm. 

The  distance  through  the  Turkish  dominions  was  from  Constanti- 
nople to  Baghdad  1,550  miles,  and  thence  to  Fao  400  miles  ; 
and  it  may  be  added  that  the  portion  most  easily  maintained 
was  that  which  passed  through  this  country  of  the  Bedouin 

To  the  intense  grief  of  Sir  Charles  Bright,  and  all  taking 
part  in  the  carrying  through  of  this  great  international 
undertaking,  Colonel  Patrick  Stewart,  R.E.,  died  shortly 
afterwards  of  malarial  fever  while  on  a  special  mission 
near  Constantinople.  He  did  not  survive  even  to  wit- 



ness  the  actual  opening  to  the  public  of  the  entire  Indo- 
European  line,  to  the  accomplishment  of  which  he  had  so 
largely  contributed  and  for  which  he  had  just  been  made 
a  Companion  of  the  Bath. 

As  expressed  by  The  Times  :  "  Stewart  had  been 
largely  instrumental  in  bringing  Sir  Charles  Bright's 
wondrous  sea  cable  to  the  head  of  the  Persian  Gulf,  where 
it  was  joined  to  the  land  line  at  Fao  under  his  supervision. 
With  Sir  C.  Bright,  he  shared  the  honour  due  for  this  great 
achievement."  Referring  to  Colonel  Stewart  in  his  paper 
on  "The  Telegraph  to  India,"1  Bright  said:  "  By  his 
death  the  country  has  lost  an  accomplished  and  fearless 
officer,  unsurpassed  in  zealous  devotion  to  his  duties,  and 
rarely  equalled  in  administrative  capacity." 

Colonel  Stewart  was  succeeded  by  Colonel  Goldsmid ;  but 
on  the  latter  receiving  a  special  political  appointment,  Major 
Champain  received  promotion  and  became  the  Director 
General  of  the  Indo-European  Government  Telegraphs. 
He  had  had  a  considerable  experience  with  the  Persian 
Telegraph  system. 

It  was  not  until  the  end  of  February,  1865,  that  arrange- 
ments had  been  so  far  organised  as  to  permit  of  the  line 
to  India  being  opened  for  the  transmission  of  public  mes- 
sages, since  which  it  has  been  in  daily  operation,  carrying 
a  large  traffic  between  India  and  Europe.  It  was  soon 
found,  however,  that  the  connecting  wires  through  Tur- 
key and  between  Karachi  and  the  main  Indian  lines  at 

1  Mins.  Proc.  Inst.   C.E.,  vol.  xxv. 


Bombay  were  very  badly  managed.  Whilst  a  speedy 
service  was  established  on  the  four  sections  of  cable,  messages 
between  India  and  England  frequently  occupied  many 
days  in  transit  over  the  land  lines.  This  was  partly  due 
to  the  inefficient  staff  of  half-castes  at  first  employed  in 
India.  It  was  also  partly  due  to  the  carelessness  and  in- 
dolence of  the  Turks,  who  often  allowed  their  wires  to 
be  out  of  order  for  days  together.  The  extent  of  Turkish 
apathy  may  be  judged  when  it  is  stated  that  messages 
were  frequently  so  changed  in  their  order  of  transmission 
that  those  sent  days  after  others  would  arrive  first  !  This 
came  about  from  their  being  filed  as  they  arrived  one 
after  another  at  an  intermediate  station,  and  when  suffici- 
ently accumulated  sent  on,  those  at  the  top  (the  last  re- 
ceived) being  dealt  with  first  !  Endeavours  were  soon  made 
to  arrange  for  through  Turkish  wires  worked  by  English 
operators  ;  but  so  jealous  was  the  Sultan's  Government 
of  interference  that  this  reform  did  not  receive  the  neces- 
sary sanction. 

With  regard  to  this,  The  Times  said  :— 

Advices  just  received  from  Baghdad  and  Beyrout  describe 
the  causes  of  delay  in  the  transmission  of  intelligence  through 
the  telegraph  to  India,  the  submarine  portion  of  which  in  the 
Persian  Gulf  was  recently  completed  by  Sir  Charles  Bright.  It 
appears  that  seventy  miles  of  the  line  from  Bussorah  to  Baghdad 
are  incomplete,  and  cannot  be  constructed  on  account  of  the 
distracted  state  of  the  intervening  country,  the  Arabs  having 
revolted  against  their  Turkish  masters.  The  Porte  undertook  to 
construct  this  portion  of  the  telegraph  through  the  Pashalic  of 
Baghdad  ;  but,  in  consequence  of  hostility  from  the  Arabs,  not 
a  Turk,  it  is  said,  dare  venture  into  the  district  unless  protected 
by  a  strong  military  force. 


Notwithstanding  the  above  weakness  in  the  system, 
the  cable  at  once  proved  a  commercial  success  to  the 
Government  ;  and  the  traffic  materially  increased  after 
Major  Champain  and  a  staff  of  "  sappers  "  erected  lines 
a  year  later  through  Persia  from  Bushire,  so  as  to  connect 
up  with  the  already  existing  Russo-European  system  at 
Tiflis.  In  later  years  the  Persian  Gulf  cable  had  a  fresh 
feeding  string  ;  for  in  1868  the  Indo-European  Telegraph 
Company  was  formed  "  for  promoting  a  more  speedy 
and  reliable  line  of  communication  between  England  and 
India  than  that  hitherto  permitted  by  the  Turkish  State 
land  lines."  This  line  passes  through  Germany  and  Lower 
Russia,  a  good  traffic  being  picked  up  as  far  as  Teheran, 
in  Persia,  where  it  joins  the  system  of  the  Indo-European 
Telegraph  Department  of  the  Indian  Government. 

Between  1864  and  1869  the  Persian  Gulf  line  was  earn- 
ing at  the  rate  of  £100,000  per  annum  ;  this,  moreover, 
under  the  disadvantages  of  a  bad  land-line  connection 
through  Turkey.  At  the  time  it  had  the  monopoly  of  tele- 
graphic communication  with  India,  and  it  made  the  best 
of  it.  These  halcyon  days  came  to  an  end  when  the  Eastern 
and  Associated  Companies  arrived  on  the  scene. 



Retrospection  and  Reminiscences 

Sir  Charles  Bright 's  paper  l  dealing  with  the  whole 
subject  of  this  chapter,  and  giving  a  complete  account  of 
the  undertaking,  was  read  before  the  Institution  of  Civil 
Engineers 2  on  November  i4th,  1865,  and  four  evenings  were 
occupied  in  its  discussion.  This  paper  won  for  Sir  Charles 
the  Telford  Medal. 

It  was  generally  agreed  that  here  was  the  first  instance 
of  any  great  length  of  cable  being  completely  and  lastingly 
satisfactory.  Even  after  an  interval  of  thirty-five  years, 
the  Persian  Gulf  cable  is  acknowledged  to  have  been  the 
first  case  in  which  the  real  requirements  of  a  cable  had 
been  thoroughly  appreciated  and  put  into  practice.  Apart 
from  the  uninterrupted  success  attending  the  laying  of 
the  four  sections,  a  vast  advance  had  been  made  in  the 
design,  manufacture,  and  testing,  upon  anything  hitherto 
achieved  ;  and  to  the  novelties  and  improvements  intro- 
duced therein  the  result  may  be  largely  attributed.  With 
the  laying  of  the  Persian  Gulf  cable — forming  the  first  tele- 
graphic connection  between  the  United  Kingdom,  Europe 
and  India — the  science  of  the  construction  and  laying  of 
submarine  telegraphs  had  been  pretty  definitely  worked 

1  "The  Telegraph  to  India  and  its  Extension  to  Australia  and 
China,"  by  Sir  Charles  Tilston  Bright,  M.P.,  M.Inst.C.E.  (vide  Mins. 
Proc.  Inst.  C.E.,  vol.  xxv)  ;   also  Appendix  2  of  Vol.  II.  of  orginal 
biography . 

2  Sir  Charles  had  lately  been  elected  a  full  member  of  this  Insti- 
tution when  thirty — the  youngest  age  possible. 


out,  and  no  very  striking  departure  in  general  principles 
has  since  been  introduced  ;  indeed,  the  end  of  the  pioneer 
stage  may  be  said  to  have  been  reached  at  this  juncture, 
giving  rise  to  a  new  era  in  submarine  telegraphy.  As  a 
result  of  the  various  precautions  taken  on  the  Persian  Gulf 
line,  it  was  in  1889  reported  by  the  chief  technical  officer 
of  the  Indo-European  Government  Telegraphs  *  to  be 
"  one  of  the  best  ever  made."  Mr.  Possmann  at  the  same 
time  reported  that  "  the  gutta-percha  insulation  is  in  excellent 
order,  after  submersion  under  most  trying  conditions  for 
no  less  than  thirty  years."  Now — when  we  consider  the 
countless  myriads  of  boring  worms  in  that  hot  sea,  and  the 
fact  that  they  have  a  great  weakness  for  yarn  and  gutta- 
percha — we  can  the  better  appreciate  what  this  means,  and 
the  value  of  the  improvements  introduced  in  the  design  of 
the  cable. 

For  personal  recollections  of  Sir  Charles  Bright  in  connec- 
tion with  the  Indian  Telegraph  Expedition,  the  following 
graceful  tribute  from  the  pen  of  Mr.  F.  C.  Webb — his  chief 
engineering  assistant — may  here  be  reproduced.  It  ap- 
peared in  the  Electrical  Engineer  on  the  occasion  of  Sir 
Charles'  death,  and  ran  thus  :— 

I  can  recollect  many  little  traits  of  character  that  struck  me 
suddenly  at  the  time,  and  that  showed  me  he  had  a  kindly 
heart.  I  remember  once  when,  in  my  zeal  for  pushing  on  the 
work  of  fitting  out  the  five  ships  for  the  Persian  Gulf  cable,  I 

1  Official  History  of  the  Persian  Gulf  Telegraph  Cables.  By  Julius 
Possmann,  Engineer  and  Electrician.  1889. 


pressed  Sir  Charles  to  take  some  violent  steps  against  Mr.  Hen- 
ley. "  No,"  said  Sir  Charles,  "  I  won't  do  that.  Because  we 
have  the  power  of  giants,  that  is  no  reason  why  we  should  use 
it !  "  I  was  silent  for  some  time.  I  accepted  the  rebuke  ;  and 
I  hope  I  have  since  acted  on  his  words,  which  showed  a  kindly 
and  considerate  heart. 

Then  again,  I  remember  how  Sir  Charles  used  to  whisper  to 
me  when  we  were  paying  out  cable  from  the  Marian  Moore  at 
night.  "  Comedown  below,"  he  said  ;  "  my  servant  is  opening 
a  tin  of  Bath  chaps  "  ;  and  down  we  went,  and  I  never  enjoyed 
anything  in  the  Persian  Gulf  so  much  as  these  little  impromptu 
suppers  to  which  Sir  Charles  was  wont  to  invite  me. 

Once,  I  recollect,  when  we  arrived  on  board  the  P.  &  O.  steamer 
off  Suez,  we  were  absolutely  starving  ;  but  so  Medes  and  Persian- 
like  were  the  laws  of  the  P.  &  O.  Company  then,  that  as  dinner 
was  over,  we  could  not  get  a  scrap  to  eat.  Sir  Charles  was  always 
a  model  of  discipline,  and  would  not  even  raise  his  voice  on  the 
subject ;  but  determined  to  suffer  hunger  in  silence  so  as  to 
show  an  example  to  his  impatient  and  excitable  assistant.  We 
paced  the  deck  in  silent  hunger  for  some  time  ;  then  Sir  Charles 
suggested  that  we  should  discuss  quietly  what  we  should  like 
to  have  for  dinner.  I  immediately  fell  into  the  idea.  "  Julien 
soup,"  I  exclaimed.  "  No,"  said  Sir  Charles,  in  a  grave  tone, 
"  half  a  dozen  oysters,  and  a  glass  of  Chablis."  "  Good,"  I 
said  ;  "I  see  you  understand  the  matter  better  than  I  do,  Sir 
Charles.  But  still,"  I  said  in  a  pensive  way,  "  Julien  soup  would 
not  be  bad  on  empty  stomachs  like  ours  ;  however,  I  waive  the 
point,  and  accept  the  oysters,  such  as  they  are."  "  Let  us  go  on 
to  the  fish,"  said  Sir  Charles,  as  we  paced  the  deck  faster  and 
faster  in  the  deepening  twilight.  "  Filet  de  soles  au  gratin  is  a 
favourite  dish  of  mine,  Sir  Charles.  Would  you  mind  me  having 
that  ?  "  "  Certainly,  my  dear  fellow,  by  all  means  ;  but  I  must 
have  some  cod  and  oyster  sauce  to  follow."  "  Tete  de  veau  en 
tortue  is  not  bad  when  you  are  nearly  starving,  and  the  stomach 
is  in  a  weak  state."  "  That  is  true,"  said  Sir  Charles,  "  but  petits 
pates  a  la  Victoria  are  not  to  be  despised  ;"  and  so  we  went  on, 


pacing  the  deck  until  we  were  obliged  to  "  turn  in  "  awfully 
hungry.  I  dreamt  about  that  dinner,  of  course,  all  night,  and 
then  I  awoke  to  a  ship's  boy  bringing  me  a  cup  of  P.  &  O.  ship's 
coffee  ;  and  I  suppose  that  every  telegraph  engineer  or  electrician 
knows,  to  his  own  cost,  what  P.  &  O.  morning  coffee  is.  If  they 
don't  know,  I  advise  them  not  to  try  to.  I  believe  the  P.  &  O. 
have  reformed  since  then,  so  enough  of  that  story  ;  but  I  shall 
never  forget  it. 

Let  me  think  again. 

Once,  when  we  were  turning  some  cable  over  into  a  gunboat, 
about  two  miles  off  Bushire,  a  mistake,  between  myself  and  a 
young  clerk,  had  been  made  as  to  the  number  of  revolutions  of 
the  machine  that  was  measuring  the  cable  being  transhipped  to 
the  gunboat.  The  mistake  was  discovered,  and  I  was  in  constern- 
ation. We  were  shipping  into  the  gunboat  enough  to  land  five 
shore  ends.  Sir  Charles  grasped  the  situation  in  a  second,  and 
instead  of  blowing  me  up  (which  "  blowing  up  "  I  should  pro- 
bably have  passed  on  to  the  real  culprit,  a  poor  harmless  clerk), 
simply  said  in  the  coolest  manner,  "  I  will  go  ashore,  Webb,  and 
carry  all  the  critics  with  me." 

I  could  find  in  my  memory,  if  I  had  time,  many  another  little 
anecdote  which  would  show  the  kindly  feeling  that  existed  in  the 
heart  of  Sir  Charles  Bright.  He  always  showed  an  unusual 
consideration  towards  all  who  worked  under  him,  and  had  a 
genial  word  for  every  one — entirely  irrespective  of  position. 


Politics   and   Parliament 

T7OR  some  time  before  the  dissolution  of  Parliament 
-^  in  1865  Sir  Charles  was  approached  by  influential 
members  of  several  constituencies  as  to  becoming  a  candi- 
date, but  none  of  these  attracted  him.  When  making 
holiday  in  Wales,  however,  he  heard  that  Mr.  W.  Angerstein, 
one  of  the  sitting  members  for  Greenwich,  proposed  con- 
testing the  county  instead ;  and,  after  some  deliberation,  he 
consented  to  "  stand  "  for  the  vacant  Greenwich  seat,  being 
known  to  many  in  connection  with  the  Atlantic  cable  and 
other  important  lines — most  of  which  had  been  constructed 
at  Greenwich.  Many  of  his  old  staff  and  cable  hands  lived 
there,  thus  his  name  was  almost  a  "  household  word." 

As  a  first  step.  Bright  sounded  Mr.  Charles  Curtoys,  an 
old  telegraphic  associate,  who  had  long  resided  at  Charlton, 
where  he  was  a  churchwarden.  Mr.  Curtoys  took  an  active 
part  in  political  matters,  being  chairman  of  the  local  Con- 
servative Association,  of  which  Mr.  A.  D.  Wilson  was  the 
energetic  secretary.  Now  though  Sir  Charles  was  a  Liberal, 
he  was  moderate  in  his  views,  and  by  no  means  a  Radical. l 

1  He  was,  in  fact,  what  would  to-day  be  called  a  Liberal  Unionist. 



Thus  Mr.  Curtoys  at  once  favoured  the  idea  of  his  candida- 
ture, and  this  gentleman's  influence  led  to  promises  of  sup- 
port from  an  imporant  section  of  the  local  Conservatives. 
As  soon  as  his  willingness  to  contest  the  seat  was  noised 
abroad,  the  moderate  section  of  the  Liberal  party  united 
in  urging  him  to  do  so. 

After  expressing  his  political  opinions  at  considerable 
length,  and  after  going  through  the  usual  "  heckling,"  he 
was  adopted  as  candidate  by  acclamation  in  conjunction 
with  the  sitting  member,  Alderman  Salomons. 

Sir  Charles  Bright's  address  to  the  electors  read  as  fol- 
lows : — 



Having  received  a  requisition  from  many  of  the  Electors 
of  your  Borough,  inviting  me  to  become  a  Candidate  for  your 
representation  in  Parliament  at  the  ensuing  election,  I  feel  pride 
in  accepting  the  invitation,  and  I  have  now  the  honour  of  soliciting 
your  suffrages. 

My  political  principles  are,  I  believe,  in  unison  with  those  of 
the  majority  of  your  large  body. 

I  am  well  contented  with  the  position  of  our  country  compared 
with  that  of  foreign  nations  ;  and  attribute  it  to  the  superiority 
of  its  constitutional  government.  I  am  an  earnest  advocate 
of  an  Extension  of  the  Electoral  Franchise — conceived  in  the 
spirit  of  the  Reform  Bill  of  1832,  and  applied  to  the  present 
advanced  condition  of  the  population — so  as  to  call  into  exercise 
more  of  the  enlightened  intelligence  of  the  country. 

In  regard  to  the  question  of  Voting  by  Ballot,  I  see  no  reason 
to  think  that  it  can  be  necessary  for  the  protection  of  the  indepen- 
dence of  the  British  Voter  to  resort  to  a  secret  use  of  his  rights. 

While  I  am  desirous  of  ensuring,  by  proper  legislation,  the 


maintenance  of  the  fabric  of  the  National  Church,  I  am  no  less 
anxious  to  exempt  from  the  payment  of  rates  for  such  purposes 
all  those  who — from  conscientious  scruples — are  opposed  to  the 
present  system,  thus  removing  all  grounds  of  complaint  against 
the  Church  of  England,  of  which  I  am  a  sincere  member. 

With  reference  to  the  various  social  subjects  that  affect  the 
welfare,  comfort  and  independence  of  the  people,  and  with  re- 
spect to  our  relations  with  foreign  states,  by  which  the  interests 
of  the  nation  at  large  are  influenced,  many  opportunities  will  be 
presented  to  me  for  affording  to  the  electors  the  fullest  informa- 
tion they  may  require  as  to  my  views  on  these  and  other  public 

If  you  do  me  the  honour  of  returning  me  as  your  representa- 
tive, I  shall  take  my  seat  as  an  independent  supporter  of  the 
present  Government,  whose  general  measures  have  been  fraught 
with  so  much  proved  benefit  to  the  commercial  and  financial 
condition  of  the  country. 

I  have  the  honour  to  be,  Gentlemen, 

Your  faithful  servant, 



Greenwich  was  in  those  days  one  of  the  most  unwieldy 
boroughs  existing,  comprising  the  three  towns  of  Greenwich, 
Woolwich,  and  Deptford,  besides  Plumstead,  Charlton, 
Blackheath,  and  Lewisham,  thus  forming  an  exceedingly 
extensive  and  varied  electorate  to  canvass.  It  was,  in 
fact,  the  largest  Metropolitan  borough  at  that  period.  It 
has  since  been  carved  into  three  separate  boroughs,  but  at 
that  time  a  small  army  of  paid  canvassers,  with  a  number 
of  sub-committee  rooms— mostly  in  public-houses—had  to 
be  engaged. 

Many  meetings  and  speeches  were,  of  course,  necessary, 


the  latter  requiring  considerable  cogitation  as  regards 
choice  of  subject,  seeing  that  the  shade  of  opinion  varied  not 
a  little  between  Deptford  on  the  one  hand  and  Woolwich  on 
the  other.  However,  Sir  Charles  went  through  with  it, 
never  letting  the  grass  grow  under  his  feet.  His  speeches 
were  duly  reported  at  considerable  length  by  the  Kentish 
Mercury  and  other  provincial  papers.  It  'would  be  impos- 
sible to  reproduce  these,  but  a  report  in  The  Times  of  one 
of  them  may  be  taken  as  a  sample,  and  so  is  given  here  :— 


A  large  meeting  was  held  on  Wednesday  night  at  the  Lecture 
Hall,  Greenwich,  to  hear  an  exposition  of  the  political  views  of 
Sir  Charles  Bright,  whose  address  as  a  candidate  for  the  seat 
about  to  be  vacated  by  Mr.  Angerstein,  M.P.,  was  published 
nearly  a  month  since.  Mr.  W.  Jones  was  called  to  the  chair, 
and,  after  some  preliminary  remarks, 

Sir  Charles,  who  was  received  with  great  applause,  referred  to 
the  extension  of  the  franchise.  The  indifference  which  had 
existed  for  some  time  on  this  subject  was  now  at  an  end,  and  a 
settlement  would  doubtless  be  arrived  at  during  the  coming  Parlia- 
ment. The  present  system  of  household  qualification  had  many 
advantages — that  of  simplicity  among  the  number  ;  but  it  failed 
to  bring  in  many  persons  mentally  and  morally  suited  to  exercise 
the  franchise,  even  of  a  class  who  might  be  considered  above  the 
standard  intended  to  be  drawn.  Men,  whatever  their  station 
and  intelligence,  living  with  their  parents,  were  excluded,  and 
practically  also  lodgers.  It  was  further  complained — and  appar- 
ently with  much  reason — that  artisans  were  left  out  of  thepresent 
system  altogether  ;  in  some  boroughs,  no  doubt,  a  certain  number 
were  included,  as  in  Greenwich,  where  many  skilled  mechanics 


were  on  the  muster-roll ;  but  the  number  could  not  be  taken,  at  the 
extreme,  as  more  than  10  per  cent,  of  the  whole,  and  the  trading 
part  of  the  community  enjoyed  the  lion's  share  of  the  electoral 
power.  Let  them  consider  the  position  of  that  class.  It  was  a 
third  part  of  a  century  since  the  passing  of  the  Reform  Bill, 
and  what  gigantic  strides  had  been  made  everywhere  in  that 
period.  Railways,  telegraphs,  the  penny  post,  and  a  crowd  of 
improvements  had  been  introduced,  most  important  in  their 
influence  on  the  habits  of  the  people.  Nor  had  the  political  world 
been  idle.  In  that  time  had  occurred  the  abolition  of  slavery, 
as  well  as  the  repeal  of  the  corn  laws  and  navigation  laws.  The 
poor  law  had  been  reformed,  as  well  as  the  criminal  law,  by  which 
the  punishment  of  death  had  been  abolished  for  forgery,  larceny 
and  other  crimes  previously  subject  to  the  extreme  penalty. 
Taxes  upon  knowledge  had  been  removed,  and  many  other  liberal 
and  progressive  measures  had  been  carried  out.  One  wheel  of 
the  machine  had,  however,  been  stationary — the  distribution  of 
the  voting  power  of  the  people — and  this  in  the  face  of  the  ad- 
mitted increase  of  education  and  habits  of  frugality  everywhere. 
He  would  not  inflict  any  statistics  upon  them  to  establish  this, 
for  it  was  incontestable  ;  but  he  pointed  to  the  late  distress  in 
Lancashire,  arising  from  the  sudden  stoppage  of  the  staple  manu- 
facture of  the  country,  and  the  manly,  uncomplaining,  thought- 
ful conduct  of  the  operatives  during  a  long  season  of  misfortune. 
On  the  grounds  of  education  and  intelligence,  he,  therefore, 
considered  that  the  time  had  arrived  for  a  re-consideration  of 
the  limits  imposed  upon  the  electoral  scale  thirty-three  years 
since,  and  for  a  suitable  downward  extension  of  the  franchise. 
To  what  extent  and  by  what  means  should  such  an  extension  be 
made  ?  It  was  considered  by  some  that  every  man  of  sound 
intelligence  and  years  of  discretion  had  an  inherent  right  to 
the  suffrage,  and  some  had  also  argued  that  women  were  entitled 
to  it.  Let  them  consider  if  that  would  be  just.  There  were 
about  a  million  of  voters  at  present,  and  these  would,  of  course, 
be  placed  at  once  in  a  minority  by  such  a  scheme  being  carried 
out.  The  chief  business  of  Parliament  was  to  determine  the 


amount,  mode  of  collection,  and  expenditure  of  taxes  ;  and 
would  be  clearly  unfair  to  those  who  paid  the  greatest  part  of 
the  taxes,  to  commit  these  functions  to  a  majority  composed 
of  those  who  paid  the  smallest  part.  They  would,  to  use  the 
words  of  a  distinguished  writer,  "  have  every  motive  to  lavish, 
and  none  to  economise,"  and  any  voting  power  exerted  by  them 
in  regard  to  funds  to  which  they  did  not  contribute  would  be 
contrary  to  all  principles  of  free  government.  It  was  true  that 
everybody  paid  taxes,  to  some  extent,  indirectly.  But  this  was 
very  different  to  a  tax  levied  directly  ;  and  it  would,  at  all 
events,  be  to  the  interest  of  indirect  tax-paying  voters  to  make 
sure  that  whatever  increased  expenditure  they  might  carry  by 
their  votes,  it  should  not  be  paid  for  by  any  increased  taxation 
upon  the  tea  or  sugar,  or  other  duty-paying  articles,  consumed 
by  themselves.  This  might  be  met,  no  doubt,  by  some  general 
system  of  direct  taxation  ;  but  any  change  of  that  kind,  even  if 
the  revenue  could  be  so  well  collected,  must  necessarily  be 
carried  out  by  slow  degrees,  and  they  had  to  deal  with  things  as 
they  existed.  There  were  also  many  glaring  anomalies  in  the 
present  distribution  of  the  representation  whichitwas,  to  his  mind, 
almost  as  important  to  have  corrected  as  to  widen  and  deepen 
the  limits  of  the  franchise.  That  Honiton,  with  a  population 
of  3,300  and  269  electors,  or  Portarlington,  with  2,500  people  and 
106  electors,  should  each  return  the  same  number  of  members 
as  Liverpool  or  Manchester  was  obviously  a  defect  ;  and  a 
majority  in  a  division  might  not  represent  a  tithe  of  population 
and  property  for  which  the  minority  appeared.  Let  them  im- 
agine the  difference  of  property  paying  taxes  if  that  qualification 
was  to  be  regarded  instead  of  population,  in  Liverpool,  compared 
with  Honiton.  He  did  not,  however,  advocate  an  absolutely 
rigid  system  of  numerical  representation,  but  for  the  correction 
of  many  existing  anomalies,  which  were  comparable  with 
Weymouth  having  four  members  before  the  Reform  Bill.  He 
considered  that  a  complete  and  maturely  considered  plan  should 
be  carried,  for  rectifying  the  present  deficiencies  in  the  scheme 
of  voting.  It  should  comprise  an  extension  of  the  suffrage  both 


in  counties  and  boroughs.  It  should  also  provide  for  revision 
of  the  representation,  and  ought  to  be  sufficiently  comprehensive 
to  settle  the  question  for  another  third  part  of  a  century.  He 
would  like  also  to  see  an  extension  of  the  present  class  of  voters  ; 
and  had  no  objection  to  what  had  been  unreasonably  sneered  at 
as  fancy  franchises — such  as  that  every  person  who  paid  income 
tax  should  have  a  vote,  whether  a  householder  or  not. 

He  had  stated  in  his  address  that  he  considered  the  vote  by 
ballot  unnecessary  and  unsuited  to  British  institutions.  A  vote 
was  not  the  private  property  of  the  voter,  which  he  could  sell 
or  dispose  of  as  he  wished  ;  it  was  a  public  trust,  and  should  be 
publicly  exercised.  The  well-known  argument  taken  from  the 
use  of  the  ballot  in  clubs  had  been  made  use  of  to  him  by  an 
elector.  But  in  a  club  no  sort  of  trust  was  involved,  and  the 
members  had  a  positive  right  to  express  their  opinions  as  to 
admitting  a  candidate  for  membership  into  their  Society  or  not, 
and  there  was  no  sort  of  obligation  to  publish  the  fact  or  the 

In  respect  to  church  rates,  while  the  Church  and  State  were 
united,  the  right  of  the  latter  to  tax  members  of  the  Church  for 
the  support  of  the  fabric  could  not  be  disputed.  It  was  very 
different  with  those  who  did  not  take  part  in  her  services,  or 
concur  in  her  formularies.  To  Nonconformists  the  payment  of 
church  rates  was  a  positive  injustice.  He  would  give  his  most 
earnest  support  to  any  system  which  might  be  devised  for  reliev- 
ing them  from  this  grievance,  and  at  the  same  time  the  parish 
churches  from  falling  into  decay.  Failing  this — for  the  reasons 
he  had  given,  as  well  as  because  as  a  member  of  the  Church 
of  England  he  was  desirous  that  there  should  be  no  sense  of  in- 
justice on  the  part  of  others — he  would  vote  for  the  abolition  of 
church  rates,  feeling  sure  that  the  gap  would  be  filled  up  by  the 
voluntary  support  of  her  members. 

After  some  remarks  upon  the  foreign  policy  of  the  Government 
and  the  distribution  of  the  burdens  of  taxation  during  the  last 
few  years,  Sir  Charles  stated  that  if  elected  he  should  take  his 
seat  as  an  independent  supporter  of  Lord  Palmerston's  Govern 


ment— not  necessarily  following  it  in  every  groove,  or  pledging 
himself  to  vote  with  it  on  every  question,  but  generally  support- 
ing liberal  and  progressive  measures. 

After  an  animated  discussion — several  speakers  addressing 
the  meeting  at  once — and  a  number  of  questions  being  put  to  the 
candidate  upon  the  Permissive  Bill,  capital  punishment,  and 
other  public  topics,  a  resolution  was  proposed  to  the  effect  that 
the  meeting  having  heard  the  political  sentiments  of  Sir  Charles 
Bright,  was  of  opinion  that  he  was  a  fit  and  proper  person  to 
represent  the  borough  in  Parliament,  and  pledged  itself  to  sup- 
port him  at  the  forthcoming  election. 

An  amendment,  to  the  effect  that  the  views  of  other  supposed 
candidates  should  be  heard  before  giving  any  pledge  in  favour 
of  Sir  Charles  Bright,  was  rejected  by  an  overwhelming  majority 
— only  twenty-five  hands  being  held  up  in  its  favour. 

The  original  motion  was  then  put  and  carried  by  acclamation. 

Bright  was  ably  supported  in  Greenwich  and  Blackheath 
by  his  old  friend,  Mr.  John  Penn,  the  famous  engineer, 
and  father  of  the  late  Member  for  Lewisham.  During  a 
part  of  the  canvassing  period,  Sir  Charles  was  the  guest  of 
Mr.  Penn  at  The  Cedars,  Lee,  a  pretty  place  through  which 
the  South-Eastern  Railway  runs.  Another  energetic  and 
distinguished  member  of  his  general  electioneering  com- 
mittee was  the  late  Sir  E.  J.  Reed,  K.C.B.,  M.P.,  F.R.S., 
at  one  time  Naval  Constructor  to  the  Admiralty.  Sir 
Charles  also  shared,  with  Sir  J.  Heron-Maxwell,  a  partial 
support  from  the  landed  interest  in  the  person  of  Sir  Thomas 
Mary  on- Wilson,  Bart.,  of  Charlton  House,  where  he  stayed 
more  than  once. 

Bright  was  further  supported  at  a  number  of  the  meet- 
ings by  an  elderly  man  with  a  name  sounding  somewhat 
like  Hobart,  who  used  to  make  his  way  from  the  crowd  in 


front  on  to  the  platform  in  working  garb — sometimes 
coatless,  with  his  shirt  sleeves  tucked  up.  He  had  a  great 
"  gift  of  the  gab,"  and  interspersed  workmen's  jokes  and 
sayings,  which  always  evoked  cheers  and  kept  the  crowd 
thoroughly  entertained.  He  would  wind  up  somewhat  as 
follows  :— 

"  Now,  'ere's  Surr  Charles.  He's  a  real  good  working 
man  he  is.  If  his  hands  ain't  horny,  his  head's  hard  for 
work,  aye,  and  soft  for  us  working  men,  and  the  work  of 
his  brain  has  given  lots  of  good  employment,  and  lots  of 
good  pay  to  heaps  of  us  around  about  here.  And  he's  a 
thorough  sailor,  like  many  more  of  us." 

This  style  of  advocacy  always  led  to  warm  applause.  It 
turned  out  that  he  was  a  paid  speaker  ;  and,  as  far  as  was 
known,  had  not  himself  done  a  stroke  of  work  for  years — 
preferring  rather  to  live  by  his  tongue  !  We  see  more  of 
this  nowadays  than  was  experienced  at  that  time. 

But  some  of  Sir  Charles'  actual  cable  hands  also  came 
forward,  referring  to  him  as  the  real  working  man's  candi- 
date, and  speaking  of  his  having  "  shared  grub  with  them  " 
— which  was,  more  or  less,  true — on  board  ship,  etc.  Some 
boatloads  of  these  used  to  come  over  from  Henley's  and 
Silver's  Telegraph  works,  on  the  other  side  of  the  river,  to 
take  part  in  the  meetings,  besides  most  of  the  hands  from 
the  Telegraph  Construction  Company's  Greenwich  works, 
with  whom  he  had  had  so  much  to  do  in  connection  with 
the  Atlantic  cable. 

There  were  five  candidates  for  two  seats  :  Alderman 
Salomons,  the  old  sitting  member ;  Sir  John  Heron-Maxwell, 



a  strong  Tory  ;  Sir  Charles  Bright  ;  Captain  Douglas  Harris, 
professedly  Liberal ;  and  Mr.  Baxter-Langley,  an  "  ad- 
vanced "  Radical. 

In  the  result,  the  voters  showed  their  preference  for 
moderate  men  by  returning  Alderman  Salomons,  the  old 
member,  at  the  head  of  the  poll,  Sir  Charles  being  second 
with  3,678  votes,  or  a  majority  of  1,237  over  Sir  J.  Heron- 
Maxwell,  whilst  Captain  Harris  and  Mr.  Baxter-Langley 
were  "  nowhere."  At  the  declaration  of  the  poll,  Sir 
Charles  Bright  and  Alderman  Salomons  addressed  an  im- 
mense crowd  from  the  hustings,  and  were  received  with 
the  usual  enthusiasm  which  accompanies  success. 

Sir  Charles — considerably  the  youngest  of  all  the  candi- 
dates— was  the  only  man  who  had  ever  succeeded  for  the 
first  time  at  a  Greenwich  parliamentary  election. 

On  his  entry  into  Parliament  Sir  Charles  did  not  join 
the  ranks  of  the  too  voluble  members.  He  seldom  spoke, 
but  when  he  did,  his  speech  was  concise  and  to  the  point, 
and  dealt  with  subjects  he  knew  thoroughly.  In  fact, 
he  never  got  up  on  his  legs  without  having  something 
useful  to  say.1  He  voted  consistently,  and  was  scarcely 
ever  absent  from  a  division. 

Sir  Charles  always  did  his  best  for  his  constituents. 
Among  other  matters,  he  joined  with  Mr.  Otway,  M.P. 

1  This  remark  applies  equally  as  regards  the  scientific  meetings  , 
connected  with  his  profession.     Sir  Charles  was,  indeed,  essentially 
a  man  of  action  rather  than  of  words — or  papers.     Nevertheless,  he 
was  once  characterised  in  print  as  "an  engineer  who  could  talk  the 
leg  off  an  iron  pot  !  " 


for  Chatham,  in  repeatedly  urging  upon  the  Tory  Government 
the  need  of  some  improvement  in  the  wretched  pay  (about 
fourteen  shillings  per  week)  then  doled  out  to  the  dockyard 
labourers — remembering,  as  he  told  his  constituents,  the 
advice  of  President  Lincoln :  "If  you  keep  on  pegging 
away,  some  good  may  come." 

The  subject  of  this  biography  could,  however,  speak  at 
length — and  well,  too — when  occasion  demanded  it.  His 
addresses  at  meetings  in  Kent  sometimes  extended  to 
two  or  three  newspaper  columns  ;  but  then,  of  course,  on 
such  occasions  the  whole  region  of  current  politics  had  to  be 


DURING  1865  the  Aeronautical  Society *  of  Great  Britain 
was  founded  by  Sir  Charles  Bright — in  conjunction 
with  the  Duke  of  Argyll  and  Mr.  James  Glaisher — with  the 
object  of  fostering  and  developing  aeronautics  and  aerology  ; 
and  to  this  matter  he  gave  much  careful  attention,  not- 
withstanding his  arduous  professional  and  political  engage- 

The  Inquiry  into  the  Construction  of  Submarine  Telegraphs 

Aroused  by  the  failure  of  the  Red  Sea  line — the  losses  of 
which  amounted  to  more  than  half  a  million  sterling,  and  to 
which  a  continuous  Treasury  guarantee  had  been  given— 
the  Government,  before  undertaking  further  responsibility, 
had  resolved  some  years  previously  to  thoroughly  investi- 
gate the  entire  question  of  submarine  telegraphy,  and  ap- 
pointed a  committee  for  the  purpose. 

This  Committee,  with  Captain  Gait  on,  R.E.,2in  the  chair, 
representing  the  Board  of  Trade,  devoted  twenty-two  sittings 

1  Afterwards  the  Balloon  Society. 

2  Then  of  the  War  Office,  and  afterwards  Sir  Douglas  Galton, 
K.C.B.,  D.C.L.,  LL.D.,  F.R.S. 


1865-1869  277 

to  questioning  engineers,  electricians,  professors,  physicists, 
seamen,  and  manufacturers,  who  had  taken  part  in  the  various 
branches  of  submarine  work,  and  whose  knowledge  or  experi- 
ence might  throw  light  on  the  subject.  Investigations  were 
instituted  concerning  the  structure  of  all  cables  previously 
made  or  in  course  of  manufacture,  and  the  quality  of  the 
different  materials  used,  as  to  special  points  arising  during 
manufacture  and  laying,  on  the  routes  taken,  on  electrical 
testing,  and  on  sending  and  receiving  instruments,  speed 
of  signalling,  etc.  Eminent  scientists  and  engineers,  including 
Professor  Wheatstone,  Professor  Thomson,  Sir  Charles 
Bright,  Mr.  R.  S.  Newall,  Mr.  R.  A.  Glass,  Mr.  Wildman 
Whitehouse,  Mr.  Latimer  Clark,  Mr.  Samuel  Canning,  Mr.  C. 
W.  Siemens,  Mr.  Willoughby  Smith,  Mr.  C.  F.  Varley,  and  Mr. 
F.  C.  Webb  made  known  to  the  Committee  the  science  and 
practice  of  cable  making  and  laying. 

The  finding  of  this  Committee  was  published  by  order  of 
the  Government,  as  also  the  reports  of  the  meetings  and 
descriptions  of  the  experiments,  together  with  papers  and 
drawings  sent  in  by  the  experts  who  were  consulted,  the  whole 
being  included  in  the  form  of  a  Parliamentary  Blue  Book— 
the  result  of  work  which  will  ever  be  considered  a  model  of 
scientific  investigation.1 

1  Referring  to  this  Blue  Book,  Sir  Charles,  in  his  Presidential 
Address  of  1887  to  the  Institution  of  Electrical  Engineers,  remarked  : 
"  I  consider  it  to  be  the  most  valuable  collection  of  facts,  warnings 
and  evidence  which  has  ever  been  compiled  concerning  submarine 
cables,  and  that  no  telegraph  engineer  or  electrician  should  be  with- 
out it,  or  a  study  of  it.  It  is  like  the  boards  on  ice  marked  '  Danger- 
ous '  as  a  caution  to  skaters.  The  succinct  report  of  the  Committee 
at  the  beginning  of  the  book,  which  is,  of  course,  based  on  the 
evidence  obtained,  should  especially  commend  itself." 


Second  and  Third  Atlantic  Cables,  1865-66 

As  has  been  already  mentioned,  benefiting  by  the  evidence 
and  conclusions  of  this  exhaustive  inquiry,  coupled  with  the 
experience  gained  in  the  various  lines  since  the  First  Atlantic 
Cable,  at  last  (in  1865)  another  Trans-Atlantic  line  came  to 
be  embarked  upon.  As  we  have  seen,  this,  and  yet  another, 
was  in  the  end  successfully  carried  out,  the  type  of  cable 
advised  by  Bright  being  the  same  as  that  which  he  (Sir 
Charles)  had  recommended  in  1859  for  the  then  proposed 
connection  with  Gibraltar. 

To  celebrate  the  Atlantic  cables  a  great  banquet  was  given 
at  the  instigation  of  Mr.  Cyrus  Field,  when  that  gentleman 
was  in  London.  It  was  held  at  the  Palace  Hotel,  and  was 
graced  by  many  distinguished  personages  in  the  political 
and  scientific  world. 

Besides  the  subject  of  this  biography,  the  company 
included  the  Right  Hon.  James  Stuart  Wortley,  M.P.,  Mr. 
Thomas  Brassey,  M.P.,  Mr.  Samuel  Gurney,  M.P.,  Mr.  R.  W. 
Crawford,  M.P.,  Sir  Daniel  Gooch,  Bart.,  M.P.,  Sir  George 
Elliot,  Bart.,  M.P.,  Mr.  Charles  Edwards,  M.P.,  Mr.  W.  C. 
Romaine,  C.B.,  Captain  Mackinnon,  R.N.,  M.P.,  Captain 
(afterwards  Rear-Admiral)  Sherard  Osborn,  R.N.,  C.B., 
Captain  Richards  (afterwards  Rear-Admiral  Sir  George 
Richards,  K.C.B.,  F.R.S.),  Professor  Sir  Charles  Wheatstone 
F.R.S.,  Sir  Charles  Fox,  Captain  Galton,  R.E.  (afterwards 
Sir  Douglas  Galton,  K.C.B.,  F.R.S.),  Mr.  W.  T.  Henley, 
Captain  Sir  James  Anderson,  Sir  Samuel  Canning,  Mr.  John 
Chatterton,  Mr.  Willoughby  Smith,  Mr.  Henry  Clifford, 
Mr.  Richard  Collett,  Mr,  W.  Shuter,  Mr.  H,  Weaver,  Mr, 

1865-1869  279 

T.  H.  Wells,  Mr.  William  Barber,  Mr.  Charles  Burt,  and  Mr. 
J.  C.  Parkinson,  besides  Mr.  John  Walter  and  Dr.  W.  H. 
Russell,  both  of  The  Times  newspaper. 

In  the  course  of  the  proceedings  Mr.  Field  said  : — 

Ladies  and  gentlemen,  we  have  here  to-night  a  gentleman  who 
was  one  of  my  earliest  friends  in  the  Atlantic  Telegraph,  and 
who,  for  the  distinguished  part  he  took  in  the  expeditions  of 
1857  and  1858,  was  knighted  by  Her  Majesty.  He  is  now  a 
member  of  the  House  of  Commons.  I  hope  we  shall  hear  from 
Sir  Charles  Bright. 

Sir  Charles  Bright,  M.P.,  rose  and  said  :— 

Mr.  Field,  ladies  and  gentlemen,  I  was  not  expecting  to  be 
called  upon  as  a  member  of  the  House  of  Commons  this  evening, 
for  the  occasion  upon  which  we  have  met  together,  and  the  recol- 
lections it  has  brought  up,  made  me  lose  sight  of  myself  for  the 
time  being  in  any  other  capacity  than  that  of  an  engineer. 

We  have  had  a  most  able  expression  of  the  kindly  feeling  and 
goodwill  which  in  reality  exists  between  us  in  this  country  and 
that  great  nation  which  is  uppermost  in  our  minds  to-night,  and 
we  have  also  heard  something  about  the  possibilities,  or  contin- 
gencies, of  difference  between  us.  Well,  I  for  one  do  not  think 
there  is  any  likelihood  of  our  being  very  long  in  an  unfriendly 
position  towards  each  other  while  such  a  communication  as  that 
which  we  have  witnessed  in  this  room  continues  in  operation l  ; 
for  while  the  electric  telegraph  is  a  most  deadly  instrument  in 
times  of  war,  I  regard  it  as  the  most  effective  engine  that  states- 
men can  have  in  their  hands  for  maintaining  peace  between 
nations.  (Hear,  hear.) 

The  changes  which  an  earlier  invention  of  the  telegraph  would 

1  A  wire  had  been  led  into  the  room,  in  connection  with  the  Atlan- 
tic cable,  by  which  various  messages  were  sent  to  the  States  and 
replies  received  during  th$  evening, 


have  made  in  the  history  of  events  in  the  world  can  hardly  now 
be  followed  out,  and  there  is  room  for  a  treatise  to  be  written  by 
some  ingenious  person  upon  the  occurrences  which  would  not 
have  happened  if  telegraphs  had  been  there  to  prevent  them. 
We  need  not  go  far  for  an  example.  If  we  look  back  at  the  lamen- 
table war  between  England  and  the  United  States  at  the  begin- 
ning of  this  century  we  find  that  certain  Orders  in  Council,  which 
were  obnoxious  on  the  other  side  of  the  Atlantic,  were  actually 
withdrawn  or  cancelled  at  the  very  time  that  war  was  declared 
on  their  account  by  the  American  Government.  So,  too,  at 
the  end  of  many  wars,  it  has  happened  that  thousands  of  lives 
have  been  sacrificed  through  the  tardiness  of  communication  ; 
as,  for  instance,  the  battle  of  Toulouse l — after  peace  had  been 
settled  between  France  and  England — which  would  have  had  no 
place  in  history  if  electricity  had  then  been  trained  to  our  service. 

That  the  story  of  our  suppression  of  the  Sepoy  revolt  in  India, 
in  1857,  would  have  been  a  much  longer  one  but  for  the  telegraph 
is  fully  recognised  ;  and,  in  connection  with  this,  I  remember  a  cir- 
cumstance at  a  much  earlier  date,  which  was,  at  the  time,  almost 
prophetic.  When  the  telegraph  between  London  and  Southamp- 
ton was  opened,  in  1843,  the  meeting  of  the  British  Association 
was  being  held  at  the  latter  place.  Lord  Palmerston,  who  was 
a  landowner  in  the  neighbourhood,  took  an  active  interest  in  the 
proceedings,  and,  in  referring  to  the  telegraph,  he  said  that  the 
time  might  come  when,  supposing  a  mutiny  broke  out  in  India, 
the  Government  would  telegraph  instructions  to  the  Governor- 
General  in  Calcutta  as  to  the  steps  to  be  taken  to  repress  it. 

And  this  reminds  me,  gentlemen,  that  while  we  are  celebrating 
the  beginning  and  completion  of  the  Atlantic  Telegraph,  there 
remains  yet  a  good  deal  for  us  to  do.  England  must  have  a  more 
perfect  communication  with  her  Eastern  Colonies— we  must 
have  an  independent  line  of  our  own  to  India,  and  onward  to 

An  uncle  of  Sir  Charles,  Major  Henry  Bright,  in  command  of 
the  Royal  Irish  Fusiliers  (87th  Regt.),was  shot  dead  when  leading 
his  men  in  this  battle. 

1865-1869  28i 

Australia  and  China.  (Cheers.)  There  are  men  at  this  table  who 
have  done  great  things,  but  there  is  ample  work  in  the  future. 
I  hope  that  we  may  all  meet  together,  at  no  very  distant  time, 
to  congratulate  ourselves  upon  the  success  of  further  labours, 
when  the  seas  shall  cover  wires  communicating  like  nerves  between 
every  great  centre  of  thought  and  action  in  the  world. 

I  should  get  too  enthusiastic  and  make  a  long  story  of  it 
were  I  to  attempt  to  describe  the  extent  to  which  I  expect  sub- 
marine telegraphy  will  be  carried  in  the  time  even  of  this  genera- 
tion ;  and  I  will  therefore  resume  my  seat,  thanking  you  again 
for  your  kindness  in  coupling  my  name  with  a  toast  at  such  a 
triumphant  banquet  as  this.  (Prolonged  cheers.) 

Later  on,  the  following  cable  message  was  received  from 
Professor  Samuel  Morse,  LL.D.,  in  America  :— 

Greeting  to  all  met  to  perform  an  act  of  national  justice.  May 
this  divine  attribute  ever  be  the  companion  of  the  telegraph  in 
its  true  mission  of  binding  the  nations  of  the  entire  world  in 
bonds  of  peace  !  Special  greeting  to  Cyrus  Field,  Sir  Charles 
Bright,  and  Sir  William  Thomson,  as  also  to  Cooke,  Wheatstone, 

Hooper's  India-Rubber  Cables 

Almost  from  the  earliest  days  of  submarine  telegraphy 
the  question  of  adopting  india-rubber  for  insulating  the 
conductor  had  been  a  subject  of  consideration.  Mr.  C.  V. 
West— ^in  connection  with  Messrs.  Silver  and  Co.— ^was 
probably  one  of  the  first  champions  of  india-rubber  for  this 
purpose.  He  had  not  only  proposed  to  lay  an  india-rubber 
insulated  cable  to  France  before  the  Channel  line  was  laid, 
but  actually  submerged  short  experimental  lengths  in 
Portsmouth  Harbour  and  elsewhere  about  that  time. 

Then  again, Mr.  (afterwards  Sir  C.  W.)  Siemens  had  devised 


a  special  form  of  india-rubber  coating  for  submarine  wires, 
and  considerable  lengths  were  made  by  his  firm  at  an  early 

But  in  all  the  foregoing  the  india-rubber,  more  or  less 
pure,  was  subject  to  serious  deterioration  by  change  of 
temperature  and  general  conditions.  It  was  not,  indeed, 
until  the  late  Mr.  William  Hooper  conceived  the  idea 
of  applying  the  system  of  vulcanization  to  india-rubber- 
covered  wires,  that  very  practical  success  was  met  with  in 
this  direction.  Mr.  Hooper's  first  patented  process  had  come 
out  in  1859,  followed  by  improvements  in  1860,  1863,  and 

The  strong  point  about  india-rubber  as  an  electrical  in- 
sulator was  its  high  resistance  and  low  inductive  capacity 
compared  with  gutta-percha.  But  its  manufacture  was 
a  less  simple  matter  from  first  to  last  ;  and  much  credit  is 
due  ,to  the  late  Mr.  Hooper  for  developing  the  art  to  the 
extent  he  did.  Shortly  before  this  he  had  submitted  speci- 
mens of  the  core  made  by  the  Hooper  material  and  process 
to  various  eminent  engineers,  electricians,  and  chemists  for 
their  opinion.  Besides  being  reported  on  by  Sir  Charles  and 
his  partner,  Mr.  Latimer  Clark,  its  qualities  were  also  testified 
to  by  Sir  William  Thomson,  Sir  Charles  Wheatstone,  Mr.  Wild- 
man  Whitehouse,  Dr.  Miller,  Dr.  Frankland,  Mr.  C.  F. 
Varley,  Professor  Fleeming  Jenkin,  and  Mr.  F.  C.  WTebb, 
but  the  report  of  Messrs.  Bright  and  Clark  was  of  a  specially 
exhaustive  character.1 

Thus,  about  this  time,  Hooper's  core  came  into  high  repute. 

L  The  full  report  is  embodied  in  Appendix  13  to  Vol.  II  of  the 
original  biography, 

1865-1869  283 

It  was  adopted  for  river  crossings  in  India,  and  when,  shortly 
afterwards,  an  additional  cable  was  determined  on  for  the 
Persian  Gulf,  Hooper's  core  was  selected  for  the  submarine 
portion  of  the  line.1 

Improvement  of   Communication   with  India   and  the  East. 

Perhaps  one  of  the  most  important  matters  which  Sir 
Charles  Bright  took  up  in  Parliament  was  the  improvement 
and  acceleration  of  the  mail  and  telegraphic  communication 
with  India  and  the  East.  Indeed,  ever  since  he  had  laid  the 
Indian  cables,  he  had  been  indefatigable  in  his  endeavours 
to  improve  the  land  line  connecting  links. 

It  will  scarcely  be  realised  now  that  in  1866  the  contract 
speed  of  the  Peninsular  and  Oriental  mail  steamers  was  only 
8J  knots  in  vessels  of  800  tons  ;  and  that  the  Australian 
mails  were  taken  on  from  Point  de  Galle  once  a  month  at 
the  same  speed  in  600  tonners. 

But  the  telegraph  service  was  still  more  indifferent  ; 
for  although  the  cable  laid  by  Sir  Charles  in  1864,  between 
Fao,  at  the  head  of  the  Persian  Gulf,  and  Karachi,  was 
worked  well  and  quickly  by  the  trained  English  staff,  yet, 
owing  to  the  crass  ignorance  and  indolence  of  the  Turkish 
staff  between  Constantinople,  Baghdad,  and  Fao — coupled 
with  the  inefficiency  and  venality  of  the  half-castes  em- 

1  India-rubber  core  is  probably  better  suited  for  underground 
lines  in  tropical  climates  than  gutta-percha.  It  is  also  proof  against 
the  teredo  and  other  submarine  borers. 

All  the  india-rubber  core  as  used  in  the  present  day  for  electric 
light  mains,  torpedo  cables,  etc.,  is  manufactured  on  the  principle 
of  Hooper's  process.  It  is  also  still  adopted  for  cables  laid  in  certain 
teredo -ridden  waters, 


ployed  by  Government  on  the  Indian  side — messages  con- 
stantly took  a  week,  and  sometimes  letters  dispatched  from 
England  at  the  same  time  were  delivered  first  !  Besides 
this,  the  messages  were  mostly  incorrect  and  often  muti- 
lated by  the  apparently  intentional  omission  of  parts. 
As  for  the  Turks,  they  would  often  from  sheer  apathy  allow 
their  apparatus,  or  wires,  to  be  out  of  order  for  days  together 
rather  than  devote  an  hour  or  two  to  repairs.  Notwith- 
standing constant  complaints  and  urgent  representations 
from  all  sides,  the  Turkish  Government  were  so  jealous  that 
they  would  not  allow  a  land  wire  between  Constantinople  and 
Fao  to  be  worked  by  English  operators,  though  the  traffic 
was  even  then  at  the  rate  of  £100,000  per  annum. 

With  a  view  to  remedying  this  state  of  things,  Mr.  R.  W- 
Crawford,  M.P.  for  the  City  of  London,  and  Sir  Charles 
Bright  took  up  the  cudgels.  Thus  in  the  House  of 
Commons,  on  February  27th,  1866,  an  important  discussion 
was  initiated  by  Mr.  Crawford  on  the  wretched  working  of 
the  land  lines  in  Turkey  and  India  connecting  up  the  1,300 
miles  of  cable  laid  in  the  Persian  Gulf  in  1864.  He  was 
followed  by  Mr.  Horsfall  ;  and  Sir  Charles  contributed  his 
quota,  as  follows  : — 

Sir  C.  Bright,  having  been  practically  engaged  in  the  con- 
struction and  laying  down  of  the  portion  of  the  line  under 
discussion,  hoped  the  House  would  permit  him  to  add  the 
expression  of  his  regret  that  a  line  with  which  much  pains 
had  been  taken,  and  which  had  cost  much  money,  should  have 
occasioned  such  disappointment. 

He  took  it  for  granted  that  the  Turkish  Government  was 
desirous  of  carrying  out  the  convention  ;  but  so  little  interest 
did  the  Turks  feel  in  the  matter  that  the  line  between  Bussorah 

1865-1869  285 

and  Baghdad  was  delayed  for  a  year,  owing  to  some  miserable 
local  squabble,  and  operations  in  the  Turkish  dominions  had  been 
retarded  ever  since.  The  working  of  the  Indian  line  had  been 
described  as  "  the  most  wretched  in  the  world."  He  had  met  a 
gentleman  waiting  as  long  as  seven  days  at  Bombay  for  a  tele- 
gram, and  he  had  himself  been  obliged  to  wait  for  two  or  three 
days  for  a  message  between  Karachi  and  Bombay — -a  distance  of 
500  miles.  It  would  be  difficult  to  exaggerate  the  importance  of 
this  line  in  a  political  sense,  and  while  it  was  working  so  badly 
it  would  be  impossible  to  extend  our  telegraphic  system  through 
to  Australia  and  China.  (Hear,  hear.1) 

To  obviate  so  serious  an  impediment  to  prompt  and  accurate 
communication,  he  (Sir  C.  Bright)  wished  to  call  attention  to  the 
importance  of  carrying  a  second  line  from  England,  by  direct 
submarine  cable  to  Gibraltar  and  Malta,  to  connect  up  the  exist- 
ing Malta  and  Alexandrian  cable  and  the  Egyptian  land  lines  ; 
thence  by  a  cable  to  Aden  and  Bombay,  so  as  to  avoid  the  delays, 
and  errors  arising  from  transmission  at  the  hands  of  those  working 
the  present  land  route,  comprising  half-educated  half-castes, 
Turks,  Austrians,  etc.,  who  all  combine  in  mutilating  and  mang- 
ling the  plain  English  of  our  messages.  (Applause.) 

Finally,  he  (Sir  C.  Bright)  wished  to  point  out  that  by  what  was 
known  as  the  Turkish  route  a  message  was  liable  to  be  dealt  with 
by  no  less  than  ten  administrations  before  passing  into  British 
hands — a  matter  which  the  honourable  gentleman  ventured  to 
think  required  our  serious  consideration  and  a  speedy  remedy. 

Mr.  Moffatt,  Mr.  Childers  (for  the  Government),  and  Mr. 
Ayrton  continued  the  discussion,  which  led  to  the  appoint- 
ment of  a  Select  Committee  on  "  East  India  Communica- 
tions," of  which  Sir  Charles  proved  one  of  the  most  active 
members.  The  other  members  of  the  Committee  were  : — 

1  The   Times,  February  28th,   1866. 


Mr.  Crawford  (in  the  chair),  Lord  Stanley,  Lord  Robert 
Montagu,  Sir  Henry  Rawlinson,  Admiral  Seymour,  Mr.  John 
Laird,  Mr.  (afterwards  the  Right  Honourable  Sir  James) 
Stansfield,  Mr.  Acton  Ayrton,  the  Right  Honourable  Hugh 
Childers,1  Mr.  T.  M.  Weguelin,  Mr.  Charles  Turner,  Mr. 
H.  J.  Bailie,  Mr.  G.  Moffatt,  and  Mr.  Charles  Schreiber, 
whilst  at  a  later  period  Mr.  Ward  Hunt  (the  Chancellor 
of  the  Exchequer)  and  Sir  James  Fergusson  were  added. 

The  sittings  extended  from  March  i3th,  1866,  till  July 
2oth,  and  culminated  in  an  exhaustive  Report,  with  a  Blue 
Book  of  nearly  700  pages.  Some  sixty  witnesses  were 
examined,  commencing  with  the  principal  postal  and 
other  Government  officials  (Mr.  Frederick  Hill,  the  Con- 
tract Secretary,  and  others),  together  with  the  chiefs  of 
the  Indian  Telegraphs — Col.  Frederick  Goldsmid,  Col.  D.  J. 
Robinson,  R.E.,  Gol.  Richard  Strachey,  R.E.,  Major  J.  U. 
Bateman-Champain,  R.E.,  besides  Capt.  James  Rennie, 
C.B.,  and  Mr.  W.  T.  Thornton  of  the  India  Office.  All  of 
these  gave  valuable  information  as  to  the  mail  and  telegraph 

The  tardiness  of  letters  and  gross  telegraphic  irregulari- 
ties were  testified  to  by  many  merchants  of  eminence,  in- 
cluding Messrs.  Henry  Nelson,  representing  Crawford,  Colvin 
&  Co.,  Charles  Shand,  W.  H.  Crake,  Patrick  Campbell  of 
the  Oriental  Bank,  Robert  Gladstone,  G.  McMicking  of  Ker, 
Bolton  &  Co.;  C.  J.  Robinson,  and  John  Green,  of  Ralli 

1  Mr.  Childers  was  at  that  time  representing  Pontefract,  near 
which  Badsworth  Hall— an  old  seat  of  the  Bright  family— is  situated. 
As  a  fellow  Yorkshireman,  as  well  as  for  other  reasons,  he  and  Sir 
Charles  had  much  in  common  and  were  close  friends. 

1865-1869  287 

Brothers.  They  were  all  unanimous  in  condemning  the 
existing  state  of  things  ;  as  were  the  Hon.  R.  Grimston 
(Chairman  of  the  Electric  Telegraph  Company)  and  Sir 
James  Carmichael  (Chairman  of  the  Submarine  Telegraph 
Company),  who  pointed  out  that  the  public  blamed  their 
companies — to  whom  the  messages  were  originally  handed— 
for  the  misdeeds  of  the  Turks  and  Indian  "  half-castes."  Sir 
Macdonald  Stephenson,  Chairman  of  the  Telegraph  to  India 
Company,  with  Mr.  Latimer  Clark,  C.E.,  furnished  im- 
portant details  about  the  cause  of  failure  of  the  early  cable 
from  Suez  to  Bombay  in  1859,  on  the  £800,000  of  whose 
capital  the  Government  had,  too  hastily,  given  a  subsidy. 

With  reference  to  the  question  of  providing  speedier 
steamers  and  the  cost  of  an  accelerated  service,  Mr.  Joseph 
d'Aguilar  Samuda,  M.P. — perhaps  the  highest  living  author- 
ity on  shipbuilding,  and  a  friend  of  Sir  Charles' — put  in 
most  valuable  evidence,  making  many  suggestions  that 
were  shortly  afterwards  carried  out.  As  regards  through 
cables  and  their  construction,  all  requisite  knowledge  was 
imparted  to  the  Committee  by  such  experts  as  Mr.  H.  C. 
Forde,  C.E.  ;  Mr.  R.  A.  Glass,  Managing  Director  of  the 
Telegraph  Construction  Company  ;  Mr.  C.  W.  Siemens, 
C.E.  ;  and  Prof.  Fleeming  Jenkin,  C.E. 

Throughout  this  prolonged  inquiry  Mr.  Crawford,  the 
Chairman,  and  Sir  Charles  were  in  constant  attendance. 
After  the  Chairman,  Bright  was,  perhaps,  the  most  active 
at  the  many  meetings,  taking  part,  as  he  did,  in  the  examina- 
tion of  a  large  proportion  of  the  witnesses. 

With  reference  to  the  mails,  the  Committee  strongly  recom- 
mended increased  expenditure  for  more  frequent  services,  and 


an  additional  speed  of  about  two  knots  which  was  shown  to 
be  practicable.  In  view  of  the  then  approaching  com- 
pletion of  the  main  railway  system  in  India,  they  also  recom- 
mended that  Bombay  should  in  future  be  the  principal 
port  of  call. 

The  following  were  the  recommendations  arrived  at  by 
the  committee,  in  regard  to  the  telegraph  side  of  the 
inquiry  l  :— 

(ist)  That,  having  regard  to  the  magnitude  of  the  interests 
— political,  commercial  and  social — involved  in  the  connection 
between  this  country  and  India,  it  is  not  expedient  that  the  means 
of  intercommunication  by  telegraph  should  be  dependent  upon 
any  single  line,  or  any  single  system  of  wires,  in  the  hands  of 
several  foreign  governments,  and  under  several  distinct  responsi- 
bilities, however  well  such  services  may  be  conducted  as  a  whole, 
in  time  of  peace. 

(2nd)  That  the  establishment  of  separate  lines,  entirely  or 
partially  independent  of  the  present  line  through  Turkey,  is 
therefore  desirable  ;  and,  in  that  view,  that  means  should  be 
taken  for  improving  the  condition  and  facilitating  the  use 
of  the  lines  of  telegraph  which  connect  the  Persian  system  with 

(3rd)  That,  with  the  view  to  better  security  against  accident 
in  time  to  come,  the  communication  by  the  way  of  the  Persian 
Gulf  should  be  doubled,  either  by  the  laying  of  a  second  submarine 
cable,  or  by  continuing  the  land  line  from  Karachi  and  Gwadur 
to  Bunder  Abbas,  and  thence,  under  arrangements  with  the 
Government  of  Persia,  to  Ispahan,  by  way  of  Kerman  and  Yezd. 

(4th)  That  the  scheme  for  establishing  a  direct  communica- 
tion between  Alexandria  and  Bombay,  by  way  of  Aden — on 
the  principle  of  a  line  practically  under  one  management  and 

1  Report  on  "  East  India  Communications,"  Parliamentary 
Blue  Book,  1866,  p.  viii. 

1865-1869  289 

responsibility,  between  London  and  the  Indian  Presidencies 
in  the  first  instance,  and  afterwards  with  China,  Japan  and  the 
Australian  Colonies — is  deserving  of  serious  consideration  and 
such  reasonable  support  as  the  influence  of  Her  Majesty's  Govern- 
ment may  be  able  to  bring  to  its  aid.1 

(5th)  That  considering  the  great  outlay  of  guaranteed  rail- 
way capital  already  incurred  in  the  establishment  of  the  tele- 
graph on  the  several  lines  of  railway  in  India,  it  is  expedient  that 
means  should  be  taken  for  affording  the  public  the  utmost  bene- 
fit attainable  from  that  expenditure.  It  is  suggested  that  this 
could  be  effected  either  by  the  Government  of  India  sanction- 
ing the  use  of  the  wires  of  the  companies  by  a  public  company 
willing"  to  rent  the  privilege  on  equitable  terms,  or  by  such  an 
organisation  of  the  several  independent  companies  as  will  estab- 
lish a  unity  of  system,  and  bring  the  use  of  the  lines  fairly  within 
reach  of  the  public. 

(6th)  That  the  magnitude  of  the  interests  involved  in  the 
trade  of  this  country  with  China  and  Australia,  and  the  rapidly 
increasing  development  of  the  colonies,  render  it  desirable  that 
arrangements  should  be  made  to  bring  these  communities  within 
the  reach  of  telegraphic  communication  with  Europe. 

(yth)  The  Committee  also  finally  urge  upon  the  Indian 
authorities  the  absolute  necessity  in  the  meantime  of  improving 
their  internal  arrangements,  so  as  to  remove  all  risk  of  delay  in 
the  transmission  of  messages  from  Karachi  to  the  interior. 

Extension  to  the  Far  East 

Shortly  after  he  had  laid  the  Indian  cables  and  the  con- 
necting links  were  in  some  sort  of  working  order,  Sir  Charles 
began  to  urge  the  question  of  extensions  to  Australia  on  the 
one  hand  and  China  on  the  other. 

He  commenced  the  public  ventilation  of  the  subject  in 

1  This  suggestion  of  Sir  Charles  Bright  was  afterward  s  realised 
in  the  present  vast  system  of  the  Eastern  Telegraph  Company. 



what  has  become  a  somewhat  recognised  fashon — i.e.  by 
writing  a  letter  to  The  Times  on  the  subject.  Just  as 
Charles  Bright  had  been  an  original  projector  of  the  Atlantic 
cable,  so  also  in  this  matter  he  was  the  first  in  the  field.  The 
result  was  that  his  letter  met  with  some  opposition  from  an 
anonymous  writer.  The  lines  which  Sir  Charles  advocated 
have,  of  course,  since  been  laid  without  any  conspicuous 
difficulties  being  met  with  l  ;  and  it  is  somewhat  amusing 
in  the  present  day  to  read  the  sort  of  objections  that  were 
then  raised  by  "  C."'  and  others. 

In  the  course  of  this  correspondence — as  well  as  in  his 
Institution  of  Civil  Engineers'  paper 2  later — Charles  Bright 
pointed  out  that   owing  to  the  already  existing  land-line 
system   of  the   Indian   telegraph,   when   the   Persian   Gulf 
and  Mekran  coast  cables  were  laid,  electrical  communication 
existed  as  far  eastward  as  Rangoon.     He  then  drew  atten- 
tion to  the  fact  here,  in  the  House  of  Commons,  and  at  the 
Select  Committee  on  "  East  India  Communications,"  that 
"  there  would  be  no  difficulty  in  selecting  a  cable  route  with 
a  favourable    bottom  from  Rangoon,  at  a  short  distance 
from  the  coast,  to  Singapore."      He  further  pointed  out 
that  "  between  Singapore  and  Hong-Kong  a  cable  could  be 
readily  carried  in  shallow  water,  touching  at  Saigon  ;   or  the 
connection  with  China  may  be  effected  by  crossing  the  penin- 
sula and  laying  a  cable  across  the  Gulf  of  Siam."     Sir  Charles 
then  went  on  to  say  that  to  effect  the  same  object  a  land 
line  of  telegraph  was  possible  from  Rangoon  through  Bur- 

1  They  now  form  a  part  of  the  system  of  the  Eastern  Extension, 
Australasia  and  China  Telegraph  Company. 

2  Inst.   C.E.  Proc.,  vol.  xxv. 

1865-1869  2gi 

mah  and  Western  China  ;  "  but,"  he  added,  "  in  uncivilised 
countries,  communication  by  the  aid  of  submarine  cables, 
whenever  practicable,  is  far  more  reliable.''  Bright  then 
said  :  "  Proceeding  southwards  from  Singapore  towards 
Australia,  the  first  section,  to  Java,  can  be  laid  in  shallow 
water,  and  hence  to  Timor.  Indeed,  with  the  exception 
of  a  short  distance  to  the  south  of  the  latter  island — as 
yet  not  surveyed  by  soundings — the  remaining  link  to 
Australia  can  certainly  be  laid  in  shallow  water."  Finally, 
Sir  Charles  remarked  :  "  The  Australian  telegraphs  already 
extending  between  Adelaide,  Melbourne,  Sydney,  Brisbane, 
and  Port  Denison — a  distance  of  about  2,400  miles — are 
being  pushed  on  northwards  from  the  latter  place  towards 
the  Gulf  of  Carpentaria.  As  the  whole  of  the  intermediate 
country  is  being  rapidly  occupied  by  settlers,  there  will 
be  little  difficulty  in  completing  the  link  between  the 
Australian  telegraph  system  and  the  landing  point  of 
the  cable."  1 

The  first  Company  promoted  with  a  view  to  putting  these 
views  into  effect  was  the  Oriental  Telegraph  Company,  at 
the  instance  of  Mr.  Charles  Edwards,  M.P.,  and  his  associ- 
ates of  the  Telegraph  Construction  Company.  Sir  Charles 
was  asked  to  act  as  technical  expert  in  connection  with 
this  project.  It  was,  however,  subsequently  abandoned  in 
favour  of  others  of  a  less  ambitious  character. 

1  The  full  Times  correspondence — as  well  as  articles  in  The 
Observer  and  Saturday  Review  on  the  same  subject — are  given  in 
Appendix  15  to  Vol.  II  of  the  original  biography. 


The  Anglo-Mediterranean  Cable 

The  first  was  that  of  the  Anglo-Mediterranean  Telegraph 
Company,  formed  in  1868  for  the  purpose  of  providing  a 
direct  and  thoroughly  efficient  line  of  telegraph  to  Egypt. 
With  this  view  a  contract  had  been  entered  into  for  the  pur- 
chase of  certain  lines  through  Italy,  etc.,  and  short  lengths 
of  cable  which  formed  a  connecting  link  with  the  French 
continental  lines  in  communication  with  the  Submarine 


Company's  system.  Then,  besides  taking  over  the  old 
Malta  and  Alexandria  cable  of  1861,  the  Company  undertook 
to  establish  fresh  communications  between  Malta  and  Alex- 
andria, by  means  of  a  direct  deep-water  cable  of  about  goo 
miles  across  the  Mediterranean.  This  was  found  necessary 
owing  to  the  constant  failure  of  the  old  line  between  these 
points,  which  had  been  laid  on  a  bad  bottom  in  shallow  water, 
touching  at  intermediate  points  along  the  north  coast  of 

The  new  cable  was  laid  with  complete  success.     The  Tele- 

1865-1869  293 

graph  Construction  and  Maintenance  Company  were  the 
contractors,  whilst  Sir  Charles  acted  in  the  double  capacity 
of  engineer  and  electrician  to  the  "  Anglo-Mediterranean  " 
Company.  This  line  gave  every  satisfaction  afterwards  as 
regards  its  working.  The  core  was  composed  of  copper  con- 
ductor =150  Ib.  per  nautical  mile,  and  gutta-percha  dielec- 
tric =230  Ib.  per  nautical  mile.  The  speed  obtained  was 
ninteen  words  per  minute. 

The  above  afterwards  formed  the  European  end  of  that 
vast  world-wide  system  of  electro-metallic  nerves  to  the 
East  and  Far  East,  now  owned  by  the  "  Eastern  "  and 
"  Eastern  Extension  "  Telegraph  Companies.1 

Bright  went  out  on  the  expedition.  He  journeyed  over- 
land to  join  the  ship  at  Marseilles,  being  busily  engaged 
over  parliamentary  matters  up  to  the  last  moment.  From 
Marseilles  he  proceeded  a  day  later  to  Messina,  and  there  the 
first  boat  was  taken  for  Malta,  which  was  reached  on  Sep- 
tember 23rd,  1868.  Here  Bright  spent  two  days  with 
the  Governor  (Sir  Patrick  Grant,  G.C.B.)  and  also  visited 
the  telegraph  station.  The  following  day  the  expedition 
started  from  Malta  on  the  work  of  laying  a  direct  cable  to 
Alexandria,  which,  as  before  stated,  was  performed  without 
hitch  ;  the  completion  being  effected  on  October  4th.  That 
evening  we  find  Sir  Charles  dining  with  the  Consul-General, 
the  following  day  visiting  Cairo,  and  afterwards  the  Pyramids 
with  Mr.  Douglas  Gibbs2  and  other  friends.  After  staying 
for  three  days  in  and  about  Cairo,  for  a  fair,  a  religious  fete, 

1  Vide  Submarine  Telegraphs. 

2  Formerly  of  the  Electric  Telegraph  Company.     Mr.  Gibbs  was 
representatve  in  Egypt  of  the  cable  system. 


and  other  social  functions  of  interest,  Charles .  Bright  and 
his  party  returned  to  Alexandria  in  time  to.  catch  the 
P.  &  O.  boat  Manilla,  for  Marseilles.  From  there  Sir  Charles 
journeyed  direct  to  Paris,  which  he  left  the  same  day  by  the 
tidal  train  for  home. 

In  connection  with  this  new  Mediterranean  link,  it  may  be 
mentioned  that  Bright — in  collaboration  with  Mr.  A.  S 
Ayrton,  M.P. — arranged  a  concession  with  the  Austrian 
Government  for  a  system  of  cables  between  Trieste,  Ragusa, 
Corfu,  and  Malta,  which  afterwards  culminated  in  the 
system  of  the  Mediterranean  Extension  Telegraph  Company, 
and  was  eventually  merged  with  others. 

British  Indian  Lines 

The  next  great  cable  project  with  which  Sir  Charles  was 
associated  (beside  his  brother  Edward,  who  acted  as  Secre- 
tary) was  that  of  the  British  Indian  Submarine  Telegraph 
Company.  This  was  the  outcome  of  the  previously  referred 
to  Anglo-Indian  Telegraph  Company  which  had  been  formed 
in  1867  f°r  the  purpose  of  establishing  direct  telegraphic 
communication  to  India,  by  means  of  submarine  cables, 
instead  of  relying  upon  land  lines  to  the  Persian  Gulf, 
and  a  cable  thence  as  heretofore.  The  "  Anglo-Indian  " 
Company,  however  (which  had  acquired  the  Egyptian 
landing  rights  of  the  "Red  Sea"  Company,  and  had 
secured  as  their  engineers  Sir  Charles  Bright  and  Mr. 
Latimer  Clark),  failed  at  the  time  to  raise  sufficient 
capital  for  carrying  out  the  entire  enterprise.  This  long 
and  important  line  between  Suez  and  Bombay  was 

1865-1869  295 

ultimately   manufactured    and   laid    a    year  later  by    the 
Telegraph  Construction  Company. 

British  Indian  Extension,  etc.,  Lines 

Next  we  have  the  extensions  of  the  above  lines.     These 
extensions  were  to  start  from  the  Indian  telegraph  system 
to  Penang,  hence  to  Singapore.     From  the  latter  there  were 
to  be  two  branches,  one  towards  Australia  via  the  Straits 
Settlements,  and  the  other  up    to  Hong-Kong  and  other 
Chinese  ports  in  which  England  was  commercially  interested. 
The  line  was  afterwards  further  extended  to  Japan.     This 
scheme  was,  in  fact,  the  outcome  of  Sir  Charles'  original  pro- 
ject, as  set  forth  in  The  Times,  in  his  paper  on  "  The  Tele- 
graph to  India/'  in  the  House  of  Commons,  in  Parliamentary 
Select   Committees,   and   elsewhere.     Besides   the   Oriental 
Telegraph   Company  previously  referred  to,   another,    en- 
titled the  Anglo-Australian  and  China  Telegraph  Company 
—of  which    Messrs.    Bright  &  Clark  and    Messrs.    Forde 
&  Jenkin  had  undertaken  to  act  as  engineers  -^had  been 
formed  several  years  before.     But  it  was  left  for  the  com- 
bined forces  of  the  newly  formed  British-Indian  Extension 
Telegraph    Company,     the     China     Submarine    Telegraph 
Company,  and  the  British-Australian  Telegraph  Company — 
at  a  time  when  more  faith  prevailed  in  submarine  telegraphy 
—to  realise  the  project  ;    and  from  what  has  been  said  it 
will  be  seen  that  it  was  only  in  the  nature  of  things  that 
Sir  Charles  should  have  become  the  engineer  to  the  above 
undertakings.     In  this  capacity  he  was  partnered  by  Mr. 
Latimer  Clark  and  Mr.  H.  C.  Forde. 

All  these  lines   (entailing  an  enormous  length  of  cable) 


were  eventually  laid  with  complete  success  within  three  years 
by  the  contractors,  the  Telegraph  Construction  Company. 

Marseilles,  Algiers  and  Malta  Line 

It  was  about  this  time  that  the  Marseilles,  Algiers,  and 
Malta  Telegraph  Company  was  founded.  This  project 
—viz.,  the  telegraphic  connection  of  these  important  Mediter- 
ranean ports  by  means  of  a  cable  touching  the  Algerian 
coast  at  Bona — was  also  successfully  accomplished.  One 
of  the  objects  of  these  scheme  was  to  avoid  the  necessity 
of  English  messages  going  through  the  Italian  lines,  which 
were  worked  so  badly — or,  indeed,  any  other  land  wires 
than  those  of  France. 

Falmouth,  Gibraltar  and  Malta  Cable 

A  few  months  later  the  Falmouth,  Gibraltar,  and  Malta 
Telegraph  Company  was  formed,  to  complete  a  direct  sub- 
marine communication  by  telegraph  between  Great  Britain 
and  her  Eastern  possessions.  Thus  our  fortresses  at  Gibraltar 
and  Malta — as  well  as  our  fleets — would  be  in  ready  com- 
munication with  the  home  Government  ;  and  our  messages 
to  and  from  the  East  would  no  longer  be  dependent  upon 
the  goodwill  or  political  condition  of  any  continental  nation  ; 
besides  that,  the  ordinary  interruptions  common  to  land 
wires  were  avoided.  As  we  have  seen  before,  the  Govern- 
ment had  such  a  link  in  mind  several  years  previously,  and 
Sir  Charles  had  even  been  requested  to  draw  up  a  specifica- 
tion for  the  cable  ;  but  it  was  decided  that  owing  to  the 
existing  continental  land  lines,  other  submarine  communica- 

1865-1869  297 

tions  were  more  urgent.  It  was  for  the  same  reason  that 
the  Falmouth,  Gibraltar  and  Malta  Company  was  preceded 
by  the  flotation  of  concerns  for  laying  cables  to  India  and 
the  Far  East.  As  the  result  of  pressing  advances  on  the  part 
of  the  Portuguese  Government,  this  cable  was  ultimately 
taken  into  Carcavellos,  Lisbon,  on  its  way  to  Gibraltar. 
The  starting-point  chosen  for  it  eventually  was  not  Falmouth 
but  Porthcurnow,  a  quiet  spot  about  ten  miles  from  the 
Land's  End — the  Company  leasing  a  land  line  between 
there  and  London.  For  the  purposes  of  this  last  contract, 
Sir  Charles  and  Mr.  L.  Clark  stood  in  the  position  of  engi- 
neers to  the  Company,  whilst  Mr.  Edward  Bright  was  the 
first  Secretary. 

All  the  above-mentioned  schemes  were  put  into  effect 
during  that  peculiarly  busy  telegraphic  period  characterising 
the  end  of  the  seventh  and  the  beginning  of  the  eight  decade 
of  last  century.  The  cables  were,  in  each  instance,  laid  by 
the  Telegraph  Construction  Company,  although  owing  to 
the  great  pressure  of  business  at  that  firm's  works,  the 
manufacture  of  certain  portions  was  undertaken  by  Mr, 

Rival  Schemes 

Quite  a  number  of  rival  companies  were  "  floated " 
about  the  same  time  for  effecting  telegraphic  communication 
with  the  East,  Far  East,  America  and  other  parts  of  the 
world — some  effective,  some  otherwise.  The  schemes, 
however,  we  have  dealt  with  were  those  which  were  actually 
carried  out,  or  with  which  Sir  Charles  was  associated. 


In  some  of  these  rival  projects  it  was  proposed  to  adopt 
a  cable  without  any  iron  sheathing.  This  was  notably  so 
in  the  case  of  the  Direct  English-Indian  and  Australian 
Submarine  Telegraph  Company's  proposed  line,  of  which 
Sir  William  Thomson  and  Mr.  C.  F.  Varley  l  were  the  consult- 
ing electricians,  but  this  project  never  took  a  practical  shape 
—indeed,  notions  of  cables  of  this  stamp  were  soon  after- 
wards entirely  abandoned. 

The  "  Eastern  "  Companies 

Some  two  years  later  the  four  companies  owning  the  cables 
on  the  direct  route  to  India  were  amalgamated  into  the 
now  world-famous  Eastern  Telegraph  Company.  These 
companies  and  their  cables  (already  referred  to)  were  the 
so-called  "  Falmouth,  Gibraltar,  and  Malta  "  ;  the  "  Mar- 
seilles, Algiers,  and  Malta  "  ;  the  "  Anglo-Mediterranean," 
and  the  "  British-Indian/'  To  all  of  these  Sir  Charles 
Bright  acted  as  consulting  engineer.  Their  amalgamator 
and  successor,  the  "  Eastern  "  Company,  now  possesses  by 
far  the  largest  and,  from  a  national  point  of  view,  the  most 
important  telegraphic  system  in  the  world.  It  was  pro- 
moted under  the  chairmanship  of  Mr.  Fender  (afterwards 
Sir  John  Fender,  G.C.M.G.,  M.P.),  with  Lord  William 
Hay  (now  Marquis  of  Tweeddale)  as  vice-chairman  ;  and  Sir 
James  Anderson2  became  the  general  manager. 

1  Mr.  Varley  had  always  been  a  great  advocate  for  unsheathed 
cables,  just  as  Charles  Bright  had  been  opposed  to  them. 

2  Succeeded,  since  his  death  in  1893,  by  Mr.  (now  Sir)  John  Deni- 
son  Fender,  K.C.M.G.,  the  present  managing  director. 

1865-1869  299 

This  consolidation  having  been  accomplished,  in  the  follow- 
ing year  the  Eastern  Extension,  Australasia  and  China 
Telegraph  Company  was  formed  for  absorbing  those  com- 
panies which  owned  the  extension  lines  to  the  further  side 
of  India,  the  Straits  Settlements,  China,  and  Australia,  pre- 
viously alluded  to.  The  companies  thus  incorporated  were 
the  "  British-Indian  Extension,"  the  "  China  Submarine," 
and  the  "  British-Australian."  The  board  of  this  amal- 
gamating company  was  an  equally  strong  combination  to 
that  of  the  "  Eastern  "  Company — being,  in  fact,  very 
similarly  composed. 

Parliamentary  Life 

A  short  time  after  Charles  Bright  had  been  elected  member 
for  Greenwich,  Lord  Palmerston's  death  took  place  and 
Earl  Russell  became  leader  of  the  Liberal  party. 

In  February,  1868,  Bright  questioned  the  Secretary  of  the 
Treasury  as  to  the  Government's  proposed  Bill  to  acquire 
the  Telegraphs,  with  a  view  to  keeping  the  "  Magnetic  " 
and  other  Companies  advised ;  and  on  the  subsequent 
introduction  of  the  measure  by  Mr.  Ward  Hunt,  the  then 
Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer,  he  found  its  clauses  were  of  a 
very  confiscatory  nature  and  obviously  unfair  to  those  who 
had  developed  the  business  and  run  all  the  risk.  In  combin- 
ation with  Mr.  Milner  Gibson  (afterwards  Lord  Houghton) 
he,  therefore,  opposed  the  second  reading,  and  caused  its 
postponement.  This  resulted  in  reasonable  terms  being 


arranged  in  the  interval  between  the  Government  and  the 

About  the  same  time,  Sir  Charles  also  associated  himself 
with  Sir  Thomas  Fowell  Buxton,  Mr.  Ayrton,  Mr.  John 
Locke  and  Mr.  John  Hanbury — all  fellow-members  of  the 
House  of  Commons — in  strenuously  advocating  the  equalisa- 
tion of  poor  rates  in  the  Metropolitan  parishes.  He  pointed 
out  that  in  the  East  and  South-East  districts  of  London, 
possessing  the  poorest  population — and  where  naturally 
there  was  a  greater  proportion  of  paupers — the  rates  under 
the  existing  system  were,  most  unfairly,  the  heaviest. 

This  session  closed  Sir  Charles'  Parliamentary  career  ; 
for  he  was  so  closely  engaged  professionally  that  it  became 
impossible  to  devote  the  requisite  time  to  politics.  Moreover, 
it  was  a  very  expensive  borough  in  many  ways,  partly  on 
account  of  its  wide  range  at  that  period.  It  had,  indeed, 
already  cost  Sir  Charles  over  £4,000,  and  he  had  experienced 
many  pecuniary  losses  of  late.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  at  the 
actual  moment  he  was  unable  to  return  from  Havana,  where 
he  was  engaged — as  we  shall  see  further  on — in  the  submer- 
sion of  a  cable  between  Cuba  and  Florida,  which  was  destined 
afterwards  to  form  the  connecting  link  (devised  by  him) 
for  bringing  the  West  India  Islands  and  the  East  and  West 
Coast  of  South  America,  into  communication  with  the  United 
States,  Europe,  etc. — indeed,  with  the  rest  of  the  civilised 

Thus,  although  strongly  urged  by  his  constituents  at 
Greenwich  to  come  forward  at  the  dissolution  at  the  end  of 
1868,  he  felt  obliged  to  decline.  This  he  did  in  the  follow- 
ing terms,  as  taken  from  The  Times  of  October  loth.  1868  :— 

1865-1869  301 

The  following  is  the  copy  of  a  letter  just  received  from  Sir 
C.  T.  Bright,  M.P.,  in  which  he  declines  being  put  in  nomination 
again  as  a  representative  for  the  borough  of  Greenwich  :  — 

MALTA,  September 

I  have  been  detained  in  the  West  Indies  longer  than  I  expected 
owing  to  a  mishap  with  the  telegraph  cable  which  I  have  been 
engaged  in  laying,  and  now  I  find  that  it  will  be  necessary  for  me 
to  return  there  after  completing  some  business  in  the  Mediter- 
ranean. As  you  were  deputed  by  the  meeting  of  Liberal  electors 
prior  to  the  last  election  to  communicate  to  me  the  resolution, 
passed  in  my  favour,  I  think  I  may  ask  you  to  be  kind  enough  to 
make  it  known  to  the  gentlemen  who  took  part  in  that  meeting 
—  and  through  them  to  the  electors  in  different  parts  of  the 
borough  —  that  I  do  not  feel  warranted  in  soliciting  at  the  next 
election  the  suffrages  of  so  populous  a  constituency  as  it  has  now 
become,  with  a  prospect  of  a  session  of  unusual  labour  and 
unequalled  moment  to  the  interests  of  the  people,  unless  I  could 
devote  the  whole  of  my  time  to  the  trust  which  I  undertook.  I 
beg  you  will  also  do  me  the  favour  —  should  you  be  present  at 
any  meeting  which  may  be  held  by  the  Liberal  electors  regarding 
the  course  to  be  pursued  at  the  ensuing  election  —  of  expressing 
my  deep  gratitude  for  their  warm-hearted  support  and  forbear- 
ance to  me  during  the  time  that  I  have  enjoyed  the  honour  of 
being  one  of  the  representatives  of  the  borough.  With  many 
thanks  to  you  personally  for  the  trouble  you  have  taken  regard- 
ing my  position  towards  the  borough  on  several  occasions, 

I  am,  very  truly  yours, 


D.  BASS,  Esq. 

Sir  Charles  often  characterised  the  House  as  "  one  of  the 
pleasant  est  clubs  going."  He  made  many  friends,  one  of 
the  most  agreeable  —  though  only  a  distant  connection  —  being 


the  "  Tribune  of  the  People,"  John  Bright,  with  whom  there 
ensued  many  a  pleasant  game  of  billiards  and  interchange 
of  thought  at  the  Reform  Club  when  temporarily  out  of  reach 
of  the  "  whips."  There  were,  too,  several  civil  engineers 
in  Parliament  at  the  time — to  wit,  Mr.  Robert  Stephenson, 
Mr.  J.  d'Aguilar  Samuda,  Sir  Daniel  Gooch,  etc. — with  all 
of  whom  Sir  Charles  was  naturally  intimate. 

Sir  Charles  also  made  many  other  Parliamentary  friends. 
Amongst  them  were  Sir  Julian  Goldsmid,  Bart,  (afterwards 
chairman  of  the  Submarine  Telegraph  Company),  Mr.  Samuel 
Gurney  (formerly  chairman  of  the  Atlantic  Company)  ; 
Sir  John  Lubbock,  F.R.S.  (now  the  Right  Hon.  Lord 
Avebury);  Lord  William  Hay  (now  Marquis  of  Tweed- 
dale,  a  promiment  spirit  in  submarine  cable  adminis- 
tration) ;  Mr.  (now  Sir  John)  Aird  ,  Sir  Edmund  Lech- 
mere,  Bart.;  Vice- Admiral  Sir  J.  C.  D.  Hay,  Bart.;  Mr. 
Bernhard  Samuelson  ;  Alderman  (afterwards  Sir  James) 
Lawrence,  and  his  brother,  Alderman  (afterwards  Sir 
William)  Lawrence  ;  Mr.  Charles  Edwards  (partner  in 
Messrs.  Glass,  Elliot  &  Co.)  ;  Mr.  George  Traill  ;  The  Right 
Hon.  George  Sclater-Booth  (afterwards  Lord  Basing)  ;  and 
his  neighbour  Sir  John  Kelk,  in  whose  company  he  (Bright) 
usually  returned  home  when  the  House  rose  at  night. 

Whilst  the  prestige  and  interest  of  representing  a  great 
Metropolitan  borough  was  considerable,  the  subject  of  this 
memoir  soon  found  that  it  was  not  exactly  a  bed  of  roses,  and 
he  sometimes  expressed  the  wish  that  he  had  been  returned 
for  the  Land's  End,  or  John  o'  Groats,  whence  a  constituent 
could  not  interview  him  so  readily.  He  found  himself 

1865-1869  303 

incessantly  pressed  with  deputations  or  applications  about 
every  conceivable  fad  or  want  appertaining  to  his  enormous 
and  particularly  varied  constituency.  Not  a  chapel  could 
be  built,  a  bazaar  opened,  a  "  sing-song  "  be  held,  nor  -a 
regatta  started,  without  a  requisition  on  his  purse,  or  a  desire 
being  expressed  for  his  personal  presence.  Even  the  sweeps 


on  May  Day,  the  boys  on  oyster  eve,  and  the  guys  of 
November,  all  claimed  him  as  their  own — the  onus  of  refusal 
resting  on  his  shoulders. 

Gladstone  was  at  the  moment  in  the  unique  position  of 
being  Prime  Minister-elect  without  a  seat,  having  just 
been  defeated  for  West  Lancashire.  Accordingly,  Sir 
Charles  mentioned  to  the  right  honourable  gentleman  that  he 


intended  retiring,  and  suggested  that  he   (Mr.  Gladstone) 
might  be  disposed  to  stand  in  his  stead. 

Besides  being  the  youngest  knight  since  the  middle  ages, 
Bright  was  also  for  some  years  the  youngest  member  of  the 
House  of  Commons. 

About  the  same  time  as  his  retirement  from  the  House  of 
Commons,  the  family  left  their  town  house  for  a  new  home 
near  Chiswick.  During  the  interval  of  removal,  rooms  were 
taken  in  Maddox  Street  ;  and  Sir  Charles  went  down  to 
Winchester  for  some  days  to  see  his  eldest  son,  John,  at  the 
school.  Another  note  in  his  diary  indicates  a  visit  to  the 
Chinese  Ambassador,  but  without  any  further  particulars. 

At  this  period  Bright  dissolved  his  partnership  with 
Mr.  Latimer  Clark.  The  firm  of  Bright  and  Clark  had 
done  much  for  the  pioneering  and  extension  of  submarine 
telegraphy  during  the  period  of  its  existence. 


West  India  Cables 


The  Florida-Cuba  Line 

narrative  has  now  reached  what  proved  to  be  the 
most  trying  period  of  Sir  Charles'  active  life.  This 
represented  the  most  arduous  piece  of  work  it  has  ever  been 
the  lot  of  man  to  carry  through  in  the  whole  history  of 
submarine  telegraphy — partly  due  to  the  irregularities  of  the 
sea  bottom  round  about  the  coral-reefed  islands  of  the 
West  Indies,  and  partly  to  the  unhealthy  climate  in  these 
regions.  In  the  end  a  number  of  the  staff  died,  and  others 
were  invalided  home.1  Bright  himself  had  at  one  time  to 
succumb  ;  but  the  work  was  stuck  to,  and  eventually 
carried  through. 

First  of  all,  in  1868,  Sir  Charles  undertook  the  laying  of 
a  cable  to  connect  Havana  (Cuba)  with  the  American 
telegraph  lines  of  the  United  States,2  via  Key  West  and 

1  The  landing  of  several  of  the  cables  entailed  wading  through 
pestiferous  mud,  undisturbed  for  ages  past. 

2  Worked   by  the  Western  Union  Telegraph  Company — by  far 
the  largest  land-line  system  in  the  world. 

305  X 


Punta  Rassa  on  the  west  coast  of  Florida.  This  formed 
but  the  commencement  of  a  vast  submarine  system 
which  he  had  had  for  some  time  in  view — for  linking  into 
the  world's  telegraphs  the  whole  series  of  West  Indian 
Colonies.  These  included  islands  belonging  to  England,  Spain, 
France,  and  Denmark— as  well  as  Central  America— 

SIR    C.    T.    BRIGHT 
(Age  37) 

at  Colon,  Panama,  and  Georgetown,  Demerara.  The  fore- 
going comprised  twenty  separate  cables,  each  upwards 
of  700  miles  in  length,  and  laid  in  water  1,000  to  2,000 
fathoms  deep.  Moreover,  land  lines  had  to  be  erected  on 
or  across  various  islands,  the  whole  network  extending 
to  over  4,000  miles.1  This  grand  scheme  was  enlarged  in 

1  This  formed  by  far  the  greatest  length  connected  with  any  single 
enterprise.  Altogether  some  thirty-six  shore  ends  were  landed  in 
a  highly  malarious  climate,  with  a  scorching  sun  overhead. 



order  to  include  a  festoon  of  cables  on  the  east  right 
along  the  whole  coast  of  Brazil  and  thence  to  Buenos 
Ayres — a  distance  of  4,140  miles  ;  while  on  the  west  side 
of  the  South  American  Continent  Bright  proposed  to 
connect  Panama  southwards  with  Ecuador,  Peru,  and 
Chili,  involving  some  3,080  miles  of  cable  ;  and  north- 
ward along  the  Pacific  coast,  to  embrace  Mexico — another 
1,590  miles.  These  projects  altogether  amounted  to  nearly 
thirteen  thousand  miles,  and  were  eventually  all  carried  out 
in  what  was  a  comparatively  short  time  under  the  particular 
circumstances.  They  entailed,  however,  a  vast  amout  of 
labour  and  pecuniary  risk — not  to  mention  several  years 
spent  in  cable  laying,  coupled  with  serious  loss  of  health 
on  the  part  of  Sir  Charles. 

The  cable  between  Florida  and  Havana  was  made  by  the 
India- Rubber,  Gutta-Percha  and  Telegraph  Works  Com- 
pany at  Silvertown,1  for  the  International  Ocean  Telegraph 
Company  of  America,  and  was  laid  by  Sir  Charles  from  the 
s.s.  Narva,  which  he  joined  in  the  States,  whence  he  sailed 
on  November  2ist.  Shortly  after  his  arrival  on  the  scene  of 
action,  and  after  laying  the  above  cable,  Sir  Charles  penned 
the  following  letter  to  Lady  Bright  :— 

HAVANA,  January  8th,  1869. 
...  On  arriving  here  on  Sunday  I  got  all  ready  for  starting, 

1  This  firm  had  originated,  as  Messrs.  Silver  &  Co.,  (shortly  after 
the  introduction  of  vulcanising  india-rubber)  as  a  general  india- 
rubber  manufactory,  but  being  converted  in  1864  into  a  limited 
liability  company,  its  sphere  of  operations  was  extended  to  all 
sorts  of  telegraph  work.  Previously  it  had  only  covered  quite 
short  lengths  of  wire  (with  india-rubber)  for  Mr,  C.  V.  West  and 


and  next  day  went  out  to  grapple  before  daylight  ;  but,  after 
two  casts,  the  picking-up  machine — made  in  New  York — broke 
down,  and  I  have  been  very  busy  ever  since  trying  to  get  it  right 
again.  With  the  appliances  I  have  for  doing  it,  the  job  is  very 
tedious  and  excessively  vexatious. 

It  has  been  blowing  too  hard  for  the  last  two  days  to  do  any- 
thing in  the  way  of  grappling,  so  I  do  not  lose  time.  When  it 
is  fine  I  shall  get  hold  of  it  very  soon,  I  expect,  and  shall  then 
return  as  quickly  as  possible. 

I  shall  not  telegraph  by  what  steamer  I  leave,  as  I  don't 
want  to  be  bothered  with  business  for  a  few  days  after  I  get  back, 
but  shall  wire  "  Yours  of  Wednesday  or  Saturday  (as  the  case 
may  be)  received,"  by  which  you  will  understand  that  I  leave 
by  the  steamer  on  that  day  of  the  week  after  my  message.  .  .  . 

He  subsequently  picked  up  and  repaired  the  line  in  ques- 
tion— the  first  Havana  cable — which  had  been  laid  in  1867  by 
Mr.  F.  C.  Webb,  who  had  the  misfortune  to  lose  no  less  than 
sixteen  of  his  assistants  and  seamen  from  yellow  fever 
during  the  work,  besides  being  nearly  shipwrecked  when 
out  of  course  off  Cape  Hatteras.  The  repairs  were  very 
difficult  owing  to  the  strong  current  of  the  Gulf  Stream 
between  the  islands  of  Cuba  and  Key  West  ;  but  after 
weeks  of  grappling  in  about  a  mile  depth  of  water  - 
with  a  storm  intervening  —  Sir  Charles  completed  the 

In  connection  with  this  success  he  was  the  recipient  of 
an  elaborate  illuminated  testimonial  in  acknowledgment 
from  the  International  Ocean  Telegraph  Company. 


Preparations  and  Manufacture  of  Island  Links 

On  his  return  home,  we  find  Sir  Charles  joining  forces 
with  General  William  F.  Smith,  President  of  the  "Inter- 
national Ocean  "  Company,  and  Mr.  Matthew  Gray,  the 
able  Managing  Director  of  the  "  India-Rubber  Company  '' 
of  Silvertown,  for  the  purposes  of  the  West  Indian  telegraph 
extensions.  The  preliminary  negotiations  and  arrange- 
ments occupied  considerable  time.  Concessions — and,  in 
many  cases,  subsidies — had  to  be  obtained  from  the  authori- 
ties of  the  various  colonies  and  then  ratified  by  their 
Governments,  ere  the  great  scheme  could  be  laid  before  the 
public.  Two  companies,  the  West  India  and  Panama 
Telegraph  Co.,  and  the  Cuba  Submarine  Telegraph  Co., 
were  then  formed,  mainly  by  Sir  Charles  and  his  brother 
Edward  among  their  "  Magnetic  "  friends.  The  capital 
thus  raised  was  about  a  million  sterling. 

For  the  purposes  of  this  undertaking,  Bright  took  over 
and  fitted  the  Dacia,  a  screw  steamer  of  about  2,000  tons 
burthen,  with  special  machinery  of  his  design.  After  having 
her  cut  in  half  and  increased  in  length  by  40  feet — to  provide 
room  for  a  large  additional  cable  tank  amidships — she  was 
also  strengthened  by  a  broad  iron  belt  on  her  sides  from 
stem  to  stern.  Sir  Charles  bestowed  special  care  on  her 
paying-out  gear  and  even  more  on  her  picking-up  appara- 
tus, which  latter  is  about  the  most  efficient  of  its  kind 
ever  put  on  board  a  cable  ship.  The  great  feature  in  the 
gear  was  that  it  had  a  large  margin  of  power,  and  therefore, 




showed  no  tendency  to  jerkiness  under  a  heavy  strain, 
such  as  is  liable  to  cause  rupture  of  the  cable.  In  fact,  its 
perfection  was  such  that  it  might  be  likened  to  the  certain, 
yet  elastic,  action  of  an  elephant's  trunk,  in  gently  and 
steadily  drawing  up  the  grappling  rope  when  raising  a 
lost  cable  to  the  surface.  The  Dacia,  and  her  gear, 


has  since  done  as  much  useful  work  as  any  telegraph 
ship,  and  has  probably  done  more  repairs  than  any  vessel 

The  type  of  cable  specified  by  Sir  Charles  was  similar  to 
that  which  had  proved  such  a  success  in  the  heated  waters 
of  the  Persian  Gulf,  the  patent  outer  protective  wrappings 



with  Bright  &  Clark's  compound  being  applied ;  but  the  cop- 
per conductor  was  stranded  instead  of  segmental,  weighing 
107  Ib.  per  mile,  while  the  gutta-percha  weighed  166  Ib.  per 
mile.  There  were  as  many  as  four  types,  made  to  suit  the 
various  depths.  These  consisted  of  very  heavy  shore  ends 
weighing  16  tons  per  mile  ;  intermediate  of  5  tons  per  mile  ; 
and  deep  sea  of  2,\  tons  for  depth  up  to  700  fathoms,  and} 
for  beyond  that  depth,  i  ton  12  cwt.  The  general  character 


THE    "  SHORE-END  " 

of  the  main  cable  was  undoubtedly  well  chosen,1  as  the 
"  open  jawed  "  types  adopted  for  the  Atlantic  cables  of 
1865  and  1866  were  already  showing  signs  of  deterioration. 
The  whole  of  the  4,000  and  odd  miles,  weighing  nearly 
10,000  tons,  were  made  at  Silvertown  by  the  India-Rubber 
Company  between  the  latter  part  of  1869  and  the  summer 
of  1870,  under  the  constant  supervision  of  Sir  Charles  and 
a  highly-trained  staff,  who  afterwards  went  out  to  assist 

1  This  form  has  been  adhered  to  ever  since — partly  on  account 
of  its  characteristic  durability,  and  partly  on  the  score  of  immunity 
from  marine  borers  and  fish  attacks. 


on  the  expedition.  These  consisted  of  Mr.  J.  R.  France 
(who  had  previously  acted  as  engineer  to  the  Submarine 
Telegraph  Co.)  ;  Mr.  Leslie  C.  Hill,  a  prizeman  of  University 
College,  who  had  been  engaged  in  the  laying  of  the  French 
Atlantic  cable  ;  Mr.  Robert  Kaye  Gray  (son  of  Mr.  Matthew 
Gray,  and  now  engineer-in-chief  of  the  Silvertown  Com- 
pany) ;  Mr.  E.  March  Webb  (afterwards  chief  electrician 
to  the  same  firm)  ;  Mr.  Percy  Tarbutt,  subsequently  a 
highly  successful  mining  engineer  ;  Mr.  F.  L.  Robinson,  in 
charge  of  correspondence  and  accounts  (now  Secretary 
to  the  West  Coast  of  America  Telegraph  Company)  ;  and 

The  cable  was  shipped  on  the  s.s.  Dacia,  on  the  s.s. 
Suffolk,  a  twin-screw  bought  by  the  companies  to  be 
stationed  in  the  West  Indies  as  a  repairing  ship  ;  and 
on  three  large  sailing  vessels  chartered  and  fitted 
for  the  purpose.  These  were  supplemented  during  the 
laying  work  by  the  s.s.  Titian  and  s.s.  International.  A 
small  steam-launch  was  also  built  to  go  out  with  the 
Dacia.  She  was  christened  the  Beatrice,  after  Sir  Charles' 
youngest  daughter,  now  well  known  as  a  portrait  painter.1 

Sir  Charles  Bright  sailed  for  New  York  about  the  middle 
of  March,  leaving  Mr.  France,  the  chief  of  his  staff,  to 
represent  him  during  the  remainder  of  the  manufacture, 
shipment  and  voyage  out,  until  he  (Bright)  joined  the 
expedition  on  the  scene  of  operations.  The  object  of  Sir 

1  This  is  a  notable  instance  of  taste  running  through  a  family, 
for  Sir  Charles — and,  indeed,  most  of  his  children — had  always 
shown  a  predisposition  for  the  pencil,  and  even  for  the  brush,  as 
was  shown  in  the  original  biography. 


Charles'  mission  was  to  meet  General  Smith — with  whom  he 
stayed  for  some  time  to  discuss  business — before  making 
his  way  to  Havana. 

The  great  expedition  left  the  Thames  in  the  summer  of 

On  June  7th  a  message  reached  London  from  Baltimore 
as  follows  :  "  Steamship  Dacia  total  wreck,  on  outer 
north  reef  Bermuda.  Sir  Charles  Bright  on  board.  Three 
saved."  This  created  a  terrible  sensation  at  first,  on  account 
of  the  many  lives  on  board — apart  from  the  steamer  and  her 
cargo,  which  were  insured  for  about  £300,000.  Those 
connected  with  the  companies  knew  it  must  be  a  falsehood, 
as  the  Bermudas  were  fully  a  thousand  miles  out  of  her 
course.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  on  the  very  day  this  supposed 
disaster  was  published,  the  Dacia  reached  the  West  Indies,  as 
may  be  seen  from  the  following  letter  written  by  Charles 
Bright  to  his  wife,  after  he  had  joined  the  vessel : — 

JAMAICA,  June  25th,  1870. 

.  .  .  The  Dacia  did  not  arrive  at  St.  Thomas,  our  rendezvous 
till  the  7th  of  this  month. 

I  left  in  her  the  same  day  for  San  Juan,  Puerto  Rico,  where 
we  arrived  on  the  8th  and  left  next  day.  My  birthday  was 
celebrated  on  board  the  Dacia  that  evening  by  dressing  the 
ship  with  lamps.  On  coming  into  Kingston  on  the  I3th,  the 
pilot  ran  us  on  to  a  mud  bank,  and  I  had  to  take  out  some  of 
the  cable  forward  to  lighten  the  ship.  It  is  very  slow  work 
uncoiling  cable,  so  we  did  not  get  off  till  last  night.  The  mail 
steamer  which  takes  this  also  ran  ashore,  but  she  got  off  last 
night.  I  expected  she  would  have  some  damage  to  repair,  but 
she  is  coaling  now  and  is  to  leave  shortly — so  I  must  hurry 
through  my  letter-writing. 

Tell  Robert  I  have  received  his  letter  and  will  write  soon,  but 


have  as  much  as  I  can  do  just  now  ;  moreover,  the  engine  is 
running  over  my  head  taking  the  cable  back  into  the  ship,  and 
the  thermometer  stands  at  90°  !  .  .  . 

About  this  time  H. M.S.  Vestal  (Captain].  E.  Hunter,  R.N.), 
which  had  been  specially  detailed  by  the  Admiralty  to 
render  any  assistance  possible,  arrived  on  the  scene.  A  little 
later,  accompanied  by  her  five  consorts,  the  Dacia  started 
off  on  her  work.  Sir  Charles,  however,  met  with  quite 
unlooked-for  difficulties ;  for,  although  all  the  cable  was 
said  to  have  tested  perfectly  when  shipped  in  the  Thames, 
yet,  on  and  after  reaching  the  West  Indies,  serious  faults 
developed.  These  had,  of  course,  to  be  cut  out,  involving 
constant  turning  over  from  one  tank  to  another,  as  set  forth 
in  Bright's  diary.  Thus  great  delay  ensued  with  nearly 
every  section,  and  in  some  instances  the  faults  only  showed 
themselves  on  submersion.  The  above  defects  occurred 
in  the  gutta-percha  (mainly  in  the  joints)  and  were  occasioned 
by  minute  gas-bubbles  forming  between  the  layers,  and 
bursting  through — either  from  the  weight  of  the  coils  in 
the  tanks,  or  from  the  pressure  of  the  water  at  the  bottom 
of  the  sea.  A  large  number  had  to  be  removed.  Though  all 
were  but  tiny  punctures — like  the  prick  of  a  pin — they  were 
sufficient  to  cause  serious  loss  of  insulation,  which  would 
have  gone  from  bad  to  worse  had  they  not  then  been  repaired. 
Sir  Charles  and  all  the  staff  were  greatly  tried  by  these 
quite  unexpected  troubles.  Nothing  of  the  kind  had  ever 
occurred  during  the  laying  of  the  cables  in  the  Persian 
Gulf  or  in  other  hot  climates.1 

1  Anent  this,   Bright's  diary  contains  the   following  note  :     "I 
had  not  seen  a  bad  joint  in  a  completed  cable  for  a  long  time." 



The  result  was  most  disastrous  to  the  expedition.  Over 
and  over  again,  when  some  of  these  faults  had  been  got  at 
and  removed — after  expending  many  days  in  turning  over 
cable  from  one  tank  to  another — and  as  a  start  was  being 
made  for  submerging  a  new  section,  at  the  last  moment 
another  joint  would  give  way,  and  the  turning  over  had  to  be 
renewed.  It  generally  occurred  towards  the  bottom  of 



the  coil  in  the  tank — where  the  greatest  pressure  existed — 
and  this  meant  recommencing  the  tedious  process  of  clear- 
ing perhaps  several  hundreds  of  miles  to  get  at  it  !  In  this 
way  week  after  week  was  taken  up,  rendering  the  under- 
taking more  trying  than  ever  to  all  engaged,  in  so  broiling 
a  climate. 

On  two  occasions  further  trouble  arose  by  the  cable 
parting  in  deep  water  during  the  operation  of  recovering 
faults  that  had  passed  overboard.  One  case  like  this 


unfortunately  occurred — midway  between  Colon  and 
Jamaica — when  it  had  not  been  possible  to  take  observations 
for  a  couple  of  days.  This  entailed  months  of  grappling 
before  the  end  could  be  found.  The  other  was  on  the  long 
section  of  nearly  seven  hundred  miles,  between  Puerto 
Rico  and  Jamaica ;  and — although  only  about  thirty  miles  off 
land — was  in  very  deep  water  and  on  such  a  rough  and  rocky 
coral  bottom  that  about  forty  grapnels  and  several  grappling 
ropes  were  broken,  and  weeks  passed  before  the.  cable  could 
be  recovered.  It  was  a  very  different  task  to  the  com- 
paratively easy  grappling  for  the  Atlantic  lines,  where  the 
cable  hook  is  readily  drawn  along  the  surface  of  the  ground 
through  soft  ooze. 

Sir  Charles  had  calculated  on  completely  finishing  his 
task — vast  as  it  was — within  a  year  ;  but  it  took  him  a  good 
deal  longer  in  the  end.  He  suffered  very  heavily  by  these 
terrible  and  unlooked-for  delays,  which  immensely  increased 
the  cost  of  the  work.  Still,  though  so  heavy  a  loser  both 
in  pocket  and  health,  he  bore  it  all  throughout  with 
equanimity ;  and,  although  greatly  discouraged  by  this 
untoward  turn  of  affairs,  he  and  his  brother  Edward — who 
eventually  joined  him — stuck  to  it  till  every  section  was 
complete  and  in  perfect  order. 

The  scheme  of  the  Panama  and  South  Pacific  Telegraph 
Company  in  connection  with  the  West  Indian  system  at 
Panama— for  cables  down  the  west  coast  of  South  America 
— was  ultimately  abandoned. 

During  the  manufacture  of  this  Panama  and  South  Pacific 
cable,  the  late  Lord  Sackville  Cecil— half-brother  to  the 


Premier  of  that  time — acted  for  Sir  Charles  in  his  absence 
abroad.  He  had  been  a  pupil  of  Sir  Charles',  and  electrically 
tested  this  cable  up  to  the  time  its  manufacture  ceased. 


Laying    the  Cables 

Operations  were  commenced  at  the  beginning  of  July 
(1870)  from  the  terminus  of  the  International  Ocean  line. 
This  point  was  to  be  the  junction  connecting  Cuba  and  the 
American  United  States  Telegraph  system  with  the  whole 
of  the  West  Indies  and  Colon  for  Panama. 

The  first  sections  to  be  laid  were  those  of  the  Cuba  Sub- 
marine Telegraph  company  along  the  south  side  of  that 
island — the  "  Pearl  of  the  Antilles,"  from  Batabano  (already 
connected  by  two  land  lines  with  Havana)  to  Cienfuegos,  and 
thence  on  to  Santiago.  The  latter  portion  was  laid  without 
much  difficulty,  in  tolerably  deep  water  ;  but  the  first  part 
from  Batabano  proved  exceedingly  troublesome,  as  the 
shallow  and  narrow  channels  of  approach  were  composed 
of  tortuous  passages  amidst  coral  reefs  and  rocky  islets  for 
some  forty-five  miles.  Batabano  is  the  southern  terminus  of 
a  short  railway  across  the  narrow  part  of  Cuba  from  Havana. 
It  was  of  the  greatest  importance,  both  to  the  Government 
and  the  mercantile  community,  that  a  reliable  line  of  tele- 
graph should  thus  be  established  with  Cienfuegos,  a  large 
port,  and  still  more  with  Santiago,  the  second  city  of  this 
vast  and  prosperous  country.  The  existing  land  lines  through 
the  wild  interior  worked  badly  at  all  times  ;  but  these  were 


also  constantly  interrupted  by  the  "  Cubanos  "—Creoles, 
or  born  inhabitants,  of  the  island — who  were,  proverbially, 
in  a  state  of  chronic  revolt  against  the  Spaniards'  rule. 

While  the  channels  to  Batabano  were  being  further 
sounded,  Sir  Charles  went  to  Havana,  accompanied  by 
Sefior  Lopez — an  elderly  gentleman  especially  attached  to  the 
expedition — in  order  to  arrange  various  matters  with  the 

H.M.S.     VESTAL    WITH    T.S.S.    DACIA    AND    SUFFOLK    OFF    THE    CUBAN    COAST 

authorities.  The  Sefior,  who  was  a  friend  of  Sir  Charles'  in 
England,  was  an  excellent  negotiator  and  interpreter,  besides 
being  closely  related  to  the  then  Governor,  General  Lopez. 
Sir  Charles  and  the  Sefior  were  received  with  the  greatest 
consideration  by  the  various  dignitaries,  and,  while  there, 
were  made  honorary  members  of  the  "  Cercle  Espanol." 
This  Club  is  worth  describing,  as  the  building  at  that  time — 
strange  as  it  may  seem — constituted  by  far  the  largest 
club-house  in  the  world  ;  the  "  Carlton  "  and  "  Reform  " 
rolled  into  one  club  would  not  equal  it  in  size.  There  were 


twenty-three  billiard  tables  occupying  part  of  one  floor, 
the  Club  being  built  in  quadrangle  form.  The  luncheon 
and  dining  accommodation  was  on  a  very  large  scale.  There 
was  an  immense  library,  an  extensive  well-fitted  gymnasium, 
and  a  superb  ball-room.  The  latter  had  two  side  rows  of 
marble  pillars  and  intermediate  tropical  palms,  tree  ferns, 
and  flowers,  which  formed  a  sheltered  promenade  of  no  mean 
order.  While  Sir  Charles  and  Senor  Lopez  were  in  the  Club 
an  attack  was  made  upon  it  by  a  party  of  the  "  Cubanos," 
and  some  lively  revolver  shooting  took  place  in  the  streets, 
until  the  disturbance  was  quelled  by  the  authorities. 

As  the  result  of  the  survey,  many  more  shoals  were 
revealed  than  had  hitherto  been  thought  of.  To  avoid 
these  would  have  involved  a  detour  of  360  miles,  as  they 
extended  far  out  to  sea.  Thus  Sir  Charles  had  to  employ 
"  sugar  flats,"  towed  by  a  light-draught  Spanish  gunboat,  the 
Alarma',  and  as  a  heavy  type  of  cable  was  necessary,  the 
work — entailing  much  manual  labour — became  very  trying, 
especially  as  each  short  section  had  to  be  jointed.  Con- 
cerning this,  Sir  Charles  remarks  in  his  diary  :— 

Working  in  boats  under  a  burning  sun  knocks  up  the  men 
very  soon,  and  the  joints  take  very  long  to  make,  as  we  are  out 
of  ice  *  and  cannot  get  any  more  without  going  to  Batabano 
and  telegraphing  for  it  to  Havana — whence  to  Batabano  there 
is  only  one  train  a  day,  and  that  in  the  early  morning. 

On  the  first  completion  of  this  section,  Charles  Bright 
wrote  home  to  his  wife  as  follows  : — 

1  This,  or  some  cooling  mixture,  is  always  necessary  for  subse- 
quently handling  a  gutta-percha  joint  in  tropical  climates. 




July  3Oth,  1870. 

...  I  have  had  a  very  tough  job  getting  seventy-five  miles 
of  cable  laid  over  shallow  water,  and  got  aground  again  in  this 
ship.  The  place  is  full  of  shoals.  The  charts  are  good  for  nothing, 
and  the  pilots  only  used  to  very  small  ships.  This  is  the  biggest 
ship  that  has  ever  been  here. 

I  am  very  well,  though  having  an  anxious  piece  of  work — 
almost  a  labour  of  Hercules  in  its  complication — but  I  think  I 
am  better  when  I  am  hard  at  it  !  Am  busy  now  testing  the 
cable  we  have  laid,  as  there  is  a  small  fault  near  shore  here  which 
I  have  come  back  to  take  out,  so  must  stop  writing.  .  .  . 

But  after  the  laying  of  this  troublesome  and  exhausting 
section  was  effected,  Sir  Charles  had  to  go  back  no  less  than 
three  times  to  cut  out  faults  that  showed  themselves. 

The  following  letter,  written  about  this  time  to  Lady 
Bright,  serves  to  recount  some  of  the  above  troubles  :— 


Aiigust  i()th,  1870. 

...  I  wrote  you  from  this  (blessed)  place  on  the  3Oth  July, 
and  never  hoped  to  see  it  again.  After  no  end  of  trouble  to  get 
the  cable  right  then,  owing  to  the  shallow  water,  rocks,  squalls, 
and  troubles  of  every  kind  (including  getting  the  Suffolk  aground 
half  a  dozen  times,  but  luckily  without  getting  a  rock  through  her 
bottom),  we  at  last  finished,  and  went  to  the  other  end  of  our 
lines,  about  seventy-five  miles  off  ;  but  we  had  not  been  paying 
out  long  from  the  Dacia — and  in  fact,  had  just  got  in  deep  water 
—when  another  fault  showed  itself.  It  was  half-past  four  in 
the  morning,  and  I  was  luckily  on  deck  to  stop  the  ship  at  once. 
On  testing  we  found  the  fault  near  this  end  !  Was  not  that 
vexing,  after  spending  three  weeks  in  these  abominable  waters, 
to  have  to  come  back  and  do  all  the  work  over  again  ?  I  have 
only  a  few  ounces  of  patience  left,  out  of,  I  should  think,  many 


tons  which  I  must  have  brought  from  Jamaica  ! — but  I  have 
got  it  all  right  again,  and  leave  to-morrow  morning  for  the  Dacia 
off  Diego  Perez  to  join  on  to  the  deep  sea,  and  go  on  paying  out. 

I  have  not  had  a  letter  from  you  of  later  date  than  June  i5th, 
nor  have  I  seen  an  English  paper  for  months  !  We  might  as 
well  be  in  the  Pacific  Ocean  as  on  the  south  side  of  Cuba  for  get- 
ting any  English  news.  I  can  give  you  very  little  news  of  myself 
except  that  which  you  will  like  best  to  know,  that  I  am  well, 
and  no  one  on  the  sick  list  on  either  of  the  ships.  I  am  always 
particular  about  the  ships  having  plenty  of  ventilation.  At 
Cienfuegos,  when  we  were  there,  there  was  yellow  fever,  cholera, 
and  small-pox  all  at  once  raging  in  the  town  ;  so  I  put  the  town 
in  quarantine,  and  would  not  let  any  one  have  liberty  to  go 
ashore — in  fact  I  only  went  four  times  myself,  which  I  was 
obliged  to  do  on  business. 

You  will  all  have  gone  to  the  seaside,  I  think.  For  myself, 
I  don't  want  to  see  the  sea  for  ever  so  long  again.  .  .  . 

Eventually  the  Cuban  line  was  in  complete  operation 
on  September  2nd,  and  a  little  later  Sir  Charles  opened  the 
telegraph  office  to  the  public. 

As  a  slight  return  for  all  the  attention  paid  him  in  the 
island  of  Cuba,  Sir  Charles  gave  a  picnic  party  when  near 
Havana  :  an  excursion  was  made  to  a  beautiful  hill,  from 
which  lovely  views  were  obtainable. 

The  Dacia  and  the  rest  of  the  fleet  arrived  at  Santiago  on 
August  27th.  While  at  this  picturesque  seaport — approached 
by  a  long  narrow  entrance  between  cliffs — Sir  Charles  and 
his  staff  were  hospitably  received,  on  several  occasions,  by 
Mr.  F.  W.  Ramsden,  the  British  Consul,  and  Mrs.  Rams- 
den,  who  did  everything  to  make  their  temporary  visits 

On  the  first  visit  a  strong  shock  of  earthquake  occurred 


at  night,  shaking  the  hotel  in  which  they  were  quartered. 
Every  one  bolted  downstairs  and  into  the  street  in  their 
sleeping  attire  ;  but  the  quickest  of  all  was  Senor  Lopez, 
though  stout  and  about  seventy  years  of  age.  He  flew  down 
the  stone  stairs  taking  two  or  three  at  a  bound,  arriving 
outside  in  the  scantiest  of  raiment — mainly  pyjamas — 
lengths  in  advance  of  Sir  Charles,  who  started  before  him. 
The  Senor  knew  what  an  earthquake  out  there  sometimes 
meant  !  The  streets  were  full  of  residents,  many  absolutely 
in  puris  natur alibis,  as  is  very  much  the  custom  at  night  in 
that  warm  climate.  Only  a  few  minor  buildings  were, 
however,  wrecked  on  this  occasion.  Regarding  this  a 
Jamaica  newspaper l  reported  as  follows  :— 

The  earthquake  at  Santiago  on  Sunday  last  was  a  serious 
affair.  At  nine  a.m.,  during  High  Mass,  a  terrific  shock  was 
felt,  shaking  the  foundations  of  houses  in  the  city.  The  people 
in  the  Cathedral  and  from  all  the  dwelling-houses  rushed  out  in 
great  numbers,  almost  undressed,  and  perfectly  terror-stricken. 
The  shrieks  were  heard  on  board  the  vessels  of  the  Expedition, 
fully  a  mile  from  the  shore.  A  second  shock  followed,  producing 
renewed  consternation  on  land.  Boats  from  the  Expedition  were 
sent  on  shore  to  offer  any  assistance  that  might  be  requisite.  A 
few  buildings  were  thrown  down. 

The  same  journal  describes  the  general  proceedings  about 
this  time  in  these  words  :— 


The  Dacia,  Vestal,  Suffolk,  and  two  Spanish  gunboats  in 
Santiago,  arrived  there  on  the  27th  with  cable  working  beauti- 

1  The  Jamaica  Gleaner,  September  loth,  1870. 


fully.  Telegrams  from  London  daily.  Festivities,  balls,  seren- 
ades, dinners,  picnics,  in  honour  of  the  expedition.  Sir  Charles 
Bright  presented  with  freedom  of  the  city.  No  other  instance 
like  this  in  Santiago  since  conquest.  Expedition  will  probably 
leave  Santiago  on  Saturday  for  Holland  Bay.  Five  steamers 
will  form  the  expedition. 

In  a  subsequent  number  this  paper  reported  as  follows  : — 


August  28th,  1870. 

There  were  great  rejoicings  here  over  the  cable  success  ;  the 
whole  harbour  has  been  grandly  illuminated  last  night  in  honour 
of  the  event.  In  all  directions  fireworks  are  shooting  in  the  air. 
The  enthusiasm  in  favour  of  Sir  Charles  Bright  has  been  at  its 
height.  Fourteen  hundred  volunteers  marched  in  procession, 
and  then  chartered  steamers  and  sailed  round  the  Dacia  in  honour 
of  the  expedition.  They  presented  a  brilliant  array  of  lights. 
The  foreigners  gave  "  God  save  the  Queen,"  with  thrilling  effect, 
and  simultaneously  uncovered  at  the  playing  of  the  tune. 

The  Dacia,  Suffolk,  and  H.M.S.  Vestal  were  gorgeously  illum- 
inated during  this  imposing  ceremony.  The  enthusiasm  of  the 
people  of  Santiago  knew  no  bounds  General  Valmaseda  and 
2,000  citizens  visited  the  Dacia  in  order  to  present  their  voluntary 
congratulations  to  Sir  Charles  Bright. 

August  yoth. — The  rejoicings  over  the  success  of  the  cable  still 
continues.  Private  families  in  groups  have  caught  the  enthusi- 
asm, and  are  paying  their  respects  in  person.  Every  public  body 
in  Cuba  has  addressed  Sir  Charles  Bright.  Clergymen  of 
the  United  States  have  been  entertained  on  board  the  Dacia. 
Mr.  Ramsden,  the  British  Vice-Consul,  gave  a  dinner  to-day  ; 
and,  in  response,  the  city  gave  a  grand  dinner. 

The  festivities  are  likely  to  last  for  several  days. 

September  1st. — The  Cuban  shore-end  from  Batabano  was  laid 
yesterday  morning.  The  inhabitants  turned  out,  General 
Valmaseda  and  the  officials  were  up  at  5  a.m.  to  see  the  splice 


The  clubs  enthusiastic. 

There  was  even  a  regatta  in  honour  of  the  expedition. 

The  fleet  was  decorated  throughout  with  bunting. 

And  later  this  journal  announced  :— 

On  the  5th,  the  Governor  of  Santiago  gave  a  banquet  to  Sir 
Charles  Bright.  Complimentary  speeches  were  made  in  honour 
of  the  expedition. 

On  Thursday,  the  Spanish  Circulo  gave  a  picnic  in  the  country, 
to  which  Sir  Charles  and  his  officers  were  invited.  The  country 
house  and  its  approaches  were  brilliantly  illuminated  in  the 

On  Friday,  General  Valmaseda  gave  a  grand  ball  to  com- 
memorate the  successful  laying  of  the  cable. 

On  Saturday,  the  British  Consul,  Mr.  Ramsden,  gave  an  evening 
party  ;  and  on  Sunday  afternoon,  thousands  of  persons  from 
the  city  visited  the  fleet. 

During  this  period  the  Franco-German  War  was  in  full 
swing.  Sir  Charles  had  occasion  to  exercise  a  little  tact  in 
this  connection — even  so  far  away  as  the  West  Indies — as 
may  be  gathered  from  the  following  report  in  the  Jamaica 
Gleaner  aforesaid : — 

The  French  vessel  of  war  Talisman  arrived  at  Santiago  de 
Cuba,  it  is  said  in  search  of  the  Prussian  gunboat  Meteor.  The 
Prussian  Consul  applied  to  Sir  Charles  Bright  to  forward  a  tele- 
gram to  Havana  to  the  Consul-General.  Sir  Charles,  not  liking 
to  interfere  in  any  way  with  the  neutrality  of  nations,  applied 
to  the  Consul-General  for  advice  ;  and  was  informed  that  Spain 
being  a  neutral  Power,  they  would  not  like  to  give  advantage 
to  either  party.  Sir  Charles  therefore  politely  declined  to  permit 
the  cable  to  be  used  for  this  purpose,  and  the  French  steamer 
Talisman  immediately  put  to  sea. 


The  laying  of  the  "  Cuba  "  Company's  lines  being  at  last 
brought  to  a  successful  issue,  the  "  West  India  and  Panama  " 
series  of  cables  had  to  be  tackled.  Continuing  in  the  route, 
the  first  section  of  this  system  to  be  laid  was  naturally 
that  from  Santiago  (Cuba)  to  Holland  Bay,  on  the  north-east 
coast  of  Jamaica. 

Whilst  all  the  preceding  festivities  were  going  on,  pre- 
parations were  being  made  for  the  laying  of  these  future 
sections  by  the  turning  over  of  great  lengths  of  cable  from 
one  tank  to  another  in  order  to  remedy  a  sticky  condition 
which  had  proved  a  great  source  of  trouble  in  paying  out.1 
Indeed,  it  was  only  owing  to  this  being  necessary  as  soon  as 
the  Cuban  lines  were  completed — and  partly  on  account  of 
faults  in  the  insulation — that  social  entertainments  as 
above  described  could  be  given  time  for. 

The  Cuba- Jamaica  cable  was  laid  after  some  trouble  (start- 
ing on  September  I3th),  but  without  any  incident  of  special 
or  novel  interest.  The  shore  end  was  landed  near  Plantain 
Garden  Harbour,  in  Holland  Bay,  and  the  final  splice  effected 
on  September  i5th. 

Almost  immediately  on  arrival,  the  Vicar  of  St.  Thomas', 
Morant  Bay,  several  miles  off — boarded  the  Dacia  and 
presented  the  following  address  to  Sir  Charles.  This  is 
reproduced  as  being  characteristic  of  wordy  elaboration 
such  as  "  gentlemen  of  colour  "are  prone  to — especially  when 

1  The  above  stickiness  of  the  outer  compound  and  a  want  of  lime 
are  matters  noted  in  Sir  Charles  Bright's  diary  as  entirely  novel 
experiences,  such  as  he  had  never  before  met  with  in  laying  cables 
in  the  Persian  Gulf,  or  other  tropical  climates. 


associated  with  the  pulpit  or  bench.  The  exact  meaning  of 
some  of  the  phrases  and  passages  is  sometimes  difficult  to 
decipher.  Maybe,  however,  in  this  very  touch  of  mystery 
lay  the  charm  of  the  address  to  those  members  of  the 
Vicar's  flock  who  attached  their  names  to  this  well-meant 
"masterpiece  of  English  literature." 


To  Sir  Charles  Bright,  of  the  Telegraph  Expedition,  etc. 

HONOURABLE  SIR, — We,  the  inhabitants  of  the  Parish  of  St. 
Thomas,  desire  very  respectfully  to  thank  you,  for  your  presence 
in  our  midst,  not  only  as  a  distinguished  individual,  but  con- 
nected as  you  are  with  the  discovery  of  a  science,  hitherto  unknown 
among  the  ancients,  but,  confining  its  Mystic  achievements  to  the 
select  few  of  the  present  generation,  among  whom,  you,  Sir 
Charles  Bright,  bear  a  conspicuous  part,  and  also  for  the  Com- 
pany's selection  of  our  Seaboard  at  Holland  Bay  as  the  vehicular 
channel  of  communication  with  the  Metropolis  of  the  world. 

That,  notwithstanding  the  difficulties  and  calamities  through 
which  we  have  recently  passed,  yet,  it  is  our  firm  belief,  that  St. 
Thomas  will,  in  the  good  providence  of  God,  be  the  Pioneer  in 
leading  on  Jamaica  to  ultimate  beneficial  results.  For  within 
the  brief  period  of  five  years  of  her  political  reconstruction,  Capi- 
talists, men  of  genius,  commercial  men,  and  an  enterprising 
galaxy  of  Scientific  men,  have,  with  a  wonderful  combination, 
spent  more  money  for  the  development  of  the  resources  of  the 
Island  than  has  been  done  during  any  former  Government. 

Thanks  for  the.  name  of  "  Saint  Thomas,"  and  to  our  worthy 
Governor,  Sir  John  Peter  Grant,  and  his  official  and  lay  associates 
in  the  legislative  Council  of  Jamaica.  Thanks  to  our  beloved 
"  Queen  Victoria,"  and  her  Constitutional  advisers,  for  conferring 
on  us  "  Crown  Government,"  and  delivering  us  from  the  yoke 
of  oppression  and  wrong.  An  official,  of  limited  perception  of 
our  geographical  importance,  willing  to  pay  homage  to  his  con- 


stituents  rather  than  to  his  employers,  very  recently  published 
in  his  "  Report  "  on  education  that  the  inhabitants  of  St.  Thomas 
could  not  worthily  be  contrasted  with  either  of  the  parishes  of 
Manchester  and  Saint  Elizabeth  in  point  of  mental  culture  and 
the  development  of  civilisation,  in  ignorance,  too,  that  superior 
men  of  genius,  enterprise,  and  benevolence,  selected  this  parish 
for  the  introduction  and  importation  of  a  new  method  of  abceda- 
rian  instruction  in  "  Telegraphy,"  the  letters  of  which  will  never 
be  deciphered  by  the  pharisaical  declamation  of  the  Reporter, 
and  which  will — and  in  all  probability  may — be  taught  by  one 
of  the  many  rustics  employed  in  connection  with  the  Company's 
works  and  offices,  and  which  will  cause  the  inhabitants  of  Man- 
chester and  Saint  Elizabeth  to  hide  their  diminished  heads  in  the 
clefts  of  the  rocks  in  their  mountain  fastness.1 

And  we  fervently  pray  that  He  who  first  diffused  the  genius, 
by  the  inspiration  of  His  Spirit,  into  the  minds  of  men  in  its 
incipient  conception  of  "  Telegraphy  "  for  the  good  of  mankind, 
will,  with  the  knowledge  thus  conferred,  abundantly  provide 
the  means  for  its  furtherance,  to  the  remotest  parts  of  the  earth, 
with  a  large  marginal  surplus  for  compensation  to  those  who 
labour  and  struggle  with  the  gigantic  undertaking. 

And  we  further  pray  that  the  time  may  soon  come  when  the 
shores  of  "  Africa  "  will  be  visited  by  "  Telegraphy,"  and  that 
as  a  continent  with  her  varied  Nationality,  contribute  her  share 
in  the  disbursement  of  the  general  outlay,  and  the  knowledge  of 
the  "  Lord  "  cover  the  earth  as  the  waters  of  the  mighty  deep 
With  profoundest  respect,  we  are,  Sir  Charles, 

Your  obedient,  humble  servants, 
#  #  # 

(Here  followed  a  number  of  signatures  representing  the  congre- 
gation of  St.  Thomas',  Morant  Bay.) 

The  next  day  Sir  Charles  landed  the  shore  ends  for  the 

1  It  is  not  every  day  that  one  falls  upon  so  long  a  sentence  as  the 
above  ! 


cable  to  Colon  (Panama)  and  Puerto  Rico  respectively, 
and  at  11.30  that  night  the  telegraph  fleet  proceeded  to 
Kingston,  which  was  reached  at  9  a.m.  the  following 

Here,  again,  it  was  necessary  to  feed  the  "  laying " 
vessels  with  a  further  supply  of  cable,  to  the  extent  of  nearly 
700  miles,  from  the  ships  holding  the  reserve  stock,  before 
further  work  could  be  proceeded  with.  This  meant  spending 
several  weeks  at  the  chief  town  of  our  principal  West 
Indian  colony  ;  and,  when  once  the  programme  became 
known,  it  was  a  signal  for  more  festivities  ashore. 

The  whole  town  had  been  in  a  state  of  feverish  excite- 
ment the  day  before,  as  soon  as  the  inhabitants  had  satisfied 
themselves  as  to  the  working  of  the  cable  to  Cuba,  which 
(by  means  of  the  connecting  land-line  across  to  Holland 
Bay)  put  them  into  telegraphic  communication  for  the 
first  time  with  the  American  United  States,  the  Mother 
country,  and  the  whole  of  Europe.  Many  had  journeyed 
to  Port  Royal  in  order  to  see  the  first  of  the  telegraph 
squadron  and  offer  greetings. 

Whilst  the  expedition  was  at  Kingston,  Bright  spent 
most  of  his  time  ashore  attending  to  various  business,  whilst 
his  orders — in  the  way  of  cable  transference — were  being 
carried  out  on  the  ships.  First  of  all  he  opened  the  new 
telegraph  office  there.  Then  he  had  to  call  on  a  number 
of  people  on  official  matters,  all  more  or  less  connected  with 
the  welfare  of  the  cable  systems. 

Then  various  dinners  had,  in  a  similar  way,  to  be  given 
and  received. 

Sir  Charles  had  a  real  pleasure  in  getting  ashore  again, 


if  only  to  get  into  touch  with  home  matters  once  more — 
by  telegraph  as  well  as  through  the  newspapers. 

Soon  after  landing,  an  address  was  presented  to  him 
which  was  thus  reported  in  the  local  journals  :— 


At  eleven  o'clock  on  Wednesday  a  deputation  from  the  Royal 
Society  of  Arts  waited  upon  Sir  Charles  Bright  at  the  Telegraph 
Station,  to  present  him  an  address  from  the  Society  on  the  suc- 
cessful laying  of  the  telegraph  cable  to  Jamaica.  The  Hon. 
Secretary  read  the  address,  as  follows  : — 

SIR, — We,  the  undersigned,  Members  of  the  Council  and 
General  Members  of  the  United  Royal  Agricultural  Society  and 
Society  of  Arts,  Manufactures,  and  Commerce,  of  this  Island, 
deem  it  our  peculiar  duty  and  privilege  to  welcome  you  to  our 
shores,  and  to  thank  you  in  the  name  of  the  inhabitants  of  this 
ancient  and  loyal  Colony,  for  the  benefits — Social,  Political, 
Scientific,  and  Commercial — likely  to  result  from  the  great  work 
you  have  lately  so  satisfactorily  accomplished  in  connecting  this 
country  by  Electric  Cable  with  Europe,  America,  and  the  Neigh- 
bouring Islands. 

In  recognition  of  your  important  services  the  Society  has 
unanimously  elected  you  an  Honorary  Member — a  position  we 
hope  you  will  do  us  the  honour  to  accept.  And  we  beg  that 
you  will  receive  our  cordial  congratulations  and  good  wishes  to 
yourself,  and  for  the  further  success  of  this  great  enterprise, 
destined,  in  its  completeness,  to  link  together  the  Nations  of 
the  Earth. 

Dated  at  Kingston,  Jamaica,  this  28th  day  of  September,  1870. 

Sir  Charles,  in  reply,  said  he  felt  very  highly  honoured  by  the 
bestowal  of  membership,  especially  caponing  from  such  high 
quarters.  These  addresses,  when  presented  to  engineers,  are 
looked  upon  as  of  very  great  value,  and  are  prized  as  much  as 


the  glittering  stars  on  the  breasts  of  some.  He  thanked  the 
Society  heartily  for  the  high  honour  conferred  upon  him.  Sir 
Charles  then  invited  the  deputation  to  visit  the  operating  room, 
when  messages  were  sent  to  Holland  Bay  and  speedily  replied  to. 
Sir  Charles  desired  the  operator  to  ask  Holland  Bay  to  send  a 
few  lines,  which  was  done  accordingly. 

The  address  to  Sir  Charles  was  accompanied  by  a  beautiful 
cabinet-box  of  photographs  of  all  the  islands,  the  box  being 
entirely  made  from  native  wood.  This  gift  was  greatly 
appreciated,  and  was  always  prized  by  Bright  in  after 

A  number  of  private  dances  were  also  given,  amongst 
other  festivities,  by  the  leading  people  of  Kingston  and 
round  about,  as  well  as  aboard  H.M.S.  Vestal.  Then 
finally,  we  find  the  following  extract  in  the  Jamaica 
Despatch  : — 

On  Thursday  night  last  a  grand  subscription  ball  was  given  in 
this  city  in  honour  of  our  distinguished  guest,  Sir  Charles  Bright. 

Thus  ended  the  festivities,  and  on  the  following  day 
(October  nth)  Sir  Charles  left  Kingston  in  the  Vestal  for 
Colon,  the  transference  of  cable  having  got  sufficiently 
advanced  to  allow  of  making  further  preparations  for  the 
subsequent  sections. 

Colon  was  reached  on  the  i6th  inst.,  and  the  Consul-General 
at  once  boarded  the  Vestal. 

Across  the  isthmus  between  here  and  Panama  a  land 
telegraph  already  existed.  The  connection  to  it  by  the  cable 
to  Panama  was  one  full  of  importance  ;  for  the  traffic  and 


mails  from  the  whole  of  the  western  coasts  of  the  entire  South 
and  Central  American  continent  concentrate  at  Panama. 
The  next  day  (October  I7th)  Bright  left  that  ship  to  go  round 
Manzanilla  Bay  to  select  the  landing-place  for  the  cable. 
On  the  same  evening  a  banquet  was  given  by  the  town  to 
Sir  Charles,  at  which  another  flow  of  speeches  occurred. 

Bright  had  previously  received  a  special  request  to  unveil 
the  statue  of  Christopher  Columbus,  which  had  just  been 
erected  there  at  the  instance  of  the  Empress  Eugenie.  This 
he  arranged  to  do  the  following  day. 

That  same  afternoon  saw  the  arrival  of  the  Dacia  with  all 
the  necessary  cable  on  board.  On  the  next  day  Sir  Charles 
had  to  journey  to  Panama  on  official  business,  and  that 
evening  he  dined  with  President  Correoso.  This  was  on 
October  20th,  and  Bright  notes  in  his  diary  that  on  the  2ist  he 
visited  H.M.S.  Zealous  with  Admiral  Farquhar  On  the  22nd 
Sir  Charles  returned  to  Colon  (or  Aspinwall,  as  it  is  some- 
times called)  by  special  train  ;  and  that  evening  the 
American  Consul  paid  him  a  visit  aboard  the  Dacia. 

And  now  a  sad  story  must  be  recorded.  Since  Sir  Charles 
Iqft  Kingston  he  found  that  sickness  had  occurred  amongst 
his  "  shipmates  "—cable  hands  and  sailors — for'ard.  Several 
had  to  be  sent  to  hospital,  and  one  had  ultimately  died  of 
yellow  fever.  Though  frequently  having  to  go  (and  remain) 
ashore  himself,  Bright  had  done  his  best  to  prevent  the  rest 
of  the  ship's  company  from  doing  so.  However,  for  the 
purposes  of  landing  the  cable,  this  could  not  be  avoided 
entirely.  Moreover,  the  landing  spot  was  often — by  force 
of  circumstances — situated  in  the  midst  of  a  malarial 


district,  besides  being  unhealthy  in  other  respects,1  and  to 
make  matters  worse  the  ship's  doctor  had  resigned  ! 

On  October  23rd,  the  ships  went  round  to  the  bay  selected 
for  landing  the  cable,  but  a  heavy  swell  from  the 
north-east  prevented  work. 

Sir  Charles  notes  in  his  diary  for  the  next  day  as  follows  : — 

Monday,  October  24th,  5  a.m.,  weather  moderating ;  ordered 
steam.  8.30  a.m.,  got  into  position  for  landing  S.E.  ;  moored 
to  wharf  and  buoy  by  stern. 

The  heavy  shore  end  had  to  be  landed  on  a  mud  bank  and 
dragged  to  the  cable-house  through  a  pestiferous  swamp 
forming  part  of  the  neighbouring  lagoons.  The  result  was 
that  Sir  Charles  and  others  employed  in  the  work  caught 
malarial,  or  "  chagres,"  fever.  This  had  just  previously 
killed  one  of  the  two  doctors  of  that  fever  den,  whilst  the 
other  had  been  invalided  home  to  the  States  ;  thus,  the 
outlook — in  the  strictest  sense — was  not  a  bright  one  2 ; 
in  fact  a  general  depression  ensued  which  Sir  Charles  had 
to  do  his  best  to  check.  But  there  was  a  vast  amount 
more  trouble  and  sadness  in  store. 

The  shore  end  having  been  landed,  paying  out  towards 
Jamaica  was  started  on  at  3  p.m.  the  same  day  (October 

The  following  facsimile  reproduction  of  a  few  lines  in 

1  It  may  be  mentioned  here  that,  in  addition  to  lime-juice,  Sir 
Charles  had  doses  of  quinine  regularly  dispensed  to  all  on  board. 
The  sailors  at  first  objected.     He  had  it,  however,  mixed  with  their 
rum  ;   so  that  they  had  to  absorb  the  quinine,  or  leave  the  "  grog  !  " 

2  As  a  further  instance  of  the  pestiferous  character  of  the  climate, 
it  was  a  saying  that  during  the  building  of  the  Colon-Panama  Rail- 
way "  every  sleeper  represented  a  man  who  had  died  on  the  work." 


Sir  Charles'  diary  for  this  day,  concerning  the  course,  is 
given  as  an  example  of  how  he  attended  to  everything  of 
importance  himself— 

This  diary — neatly  kept  notwithstanding  the  anxieties 
and  grief  caused  by  the  nature  of  his  work,  and  sickness 
and  death  amongst  his  staff — serves  to  illustrate  his 
patience  and  fortitude  under  adverse  circumstances,  besides 
giving  an  idea  of  the  life,  routine  and  troubles  associated 
with  cable  work.  His  notes  appear  to  have  been  usually 
entered  in  the  dead  of  night,  between  watches,  and  at 
moments  when  least  liable  to  disturbance.  They  were 
drawn  up  with  uniform  precision  and  neatness  throughout 
the  expedition. 

1  October  25,  8  a.m. — Laid  79  miles.  Light  breeze,  smooth 
sea.  Midnight,  laid  162.  Wind  freshening.  .  .  . 

1  The  four  hours'  recurring  records  of  speed  of  ship,  cable  laid, 
strain,  barometer,  etc.,  are  in  most  cases  omitted  from  these  diary 


October  26,  4  a.m.  .  .  .  Blowing  fresh  from  southward  and 
westward,  ship  pitching  a  good  deal.  8  a.m.,  changed  to  No.  I 
tank.  In  changing,  the  bight  .fouled  a  piece  of  spare  cable  at 
the  bottom  of  the  tank,  but  got  clear. 

The  Calif ornian,  Liverpool  steamer,  passed  at  0.50  p.m.,  and 
reported  her  position  at  noon — then  being  about  five  miles  astern 
of  our  position. 

(N.B. — None  of  the  calculations,  either  of  Calif  ornian,  Dacia, 
or  Vestal,  agreed  with  one  another.  All  the  calculations  are  by 
"  dead  reckoning,"  it  being  too  thick  for  noon  observations.) 
4  p.m.  laid  240  miles.  ... 

October  27,  6.55  a.m. — Finding  a  fault  outside  ship,  made 
fast  hawser  from  bow  sheave  to  cable  at  stern  and  let  go ;  but 
the  warp  parted,  in  roughish  weather,  and  we  lost  the  cable.1 

Heavy  storm  with  thunder  and  shifting  squalls. 

Put  down  large  conical  buoy  with  blue  flag. — buoy  No.   2. 

Estimated  distance  from  Colon  320  miles,  cable  paid  out 
367.  Weather  too  bad  to  do  anything. 

At  3  p.m.,  Seaton,  2nd  foreman,  died  of  fever  ;  buried  at 
8  p.m.  Did  the  best  we  could  in  the  way  of  a  funeral  service 
at  sea. 

Friday,  October  28. — Blowing  fresh.  'Heavy  swell,  but  looking 
better.  Could  do  nothing  in  morning,  drifting  to  W.  Buoy 
bearing  S.  82,  E.,  showing  a  2  knot  westerly  current. 

Lowered  grapnel  in  afternoon  with  1,200  fathoms  of  rope  and 
30  fm.  i  in.  chain. 

Saturday,  29th. — The  buoy  not  in  sight.  Blowing  strong  from 
E.S.E.,  sea  moderating.  Riding  to  grappling  rope.  In  after- 
noon weather  bright  and  clear,  commenced  heaving  in  on  line. 
Sighted  buoy  from  top  gallant  yard  J  point  on  starboard  bow, 
apparently  adrift. 

1  Owing  to  the  lack  of  recent  observations  it  ultimately  took 
many  weeks  to  recover  and  complete  the  above  section,  as  will  be 
seen  in  these  pages. 


4  p.m.,  picked  up  buoy  and  let  go  another  with  two  mushroom 
anchors,  3  and  4  cwt.  respectively. 

9  p.m.,  in  position  for  grappling  again  ;  lowered  grapnel. 

October  30  (Sunday). — Grappling  all  day,  from  last  night's 

7  a.m. — Ship's  head  N.E.  by  E.,  rope  leading  well  ahead. 
Light  breeze  from  E.  J  N.  Foresail  and  topsail  set,  going  with 
wind  and  current. 

ii  p.m. — Wind  freshening,  and  grappling  rope  leading  further 

11.50. — Strain  increasing,  and  dynamometer  wheel  rising  and 
falling  violently. 

October  31,  4.20  a.m. — Commenced  heaving  in,  strain  increasing 
suddenly  on  starting  engine  and  going  back,  or  stopping ; 
appears  to  be  fast  on  rock.  4.45,  put  on  slow  motion.  5.10, 
strain  up  suddenly. 

5.15  a.m. — Grappling  rope  parted  between  dynamometer  and 
bow-sheave  ;  end  struck  Captain  Dowell,  who  was  by  the  bow 
sheave,  and  knocked  him  down  insensible,  but  no  cut.  5.30, 
Dowell  better  ;  wind  increasing  and  sea  getting  up. 

Lost  800  fathoms  rope,  7  swivels,  30  fathoms  f-  inch  chain,  2 
large  swivels  and  fittings,  and  I  large  grapnel. 

10.30  a.m. — Vestal  some  miles  S.,  fires  a  gun,  went  to  her, 
and  at  11.30  sighted  buoy.  .  .  .  Took  long  time  to  get  buoy 
on  board,  owing  to  heavy  sea  and  wind.  .  .  .  Lost  chain  and 
grapnel ;  end  of  buoy  rope  chafed  by  rocks. 

November  i. — Grappling  all  day.  Blowing  fresh,  heavy  sea. 
10  a.m.,  Vestal  signals  she  is  short  of  coal,  and  will  have  to  return 
to  Port  Royal. 

10.30  a.m. — Too  much  to  the  West  for  the  cable.  Began 
taking  in  ropes.  Having  only  60  tons  of  coal  on  board,  and 
requiring  40  to  reach  Kingston,  decided  to  return  to  take  in  coal. 
Started  at  1.15  p.m.  Heavy  sea,  blowing  hard.  .  .  . 

November  3. — Heavy  sea.     Ship  rolling  a  good  deal. 

November  4. — Blowing  hard,  heavy  sea.  Only  100  miles  run 
at  noon  since  yesterday. 


November  5. — Wind  moderating.  Land  of  Jamaica  just  in 
sight  in  the  morning.  0.40,  took  pilot  on  board,  who  says  it 
is  the  worst  weather  they  have  had  for  25  years,  and  that  every- 
body looks  for  a  hurricane.1  2.30  p.m.,  Gillespie  died  of  fever. 

6  p.m.,  buried  Gillespie  at  sea  off  Jamaica.2  8  p.m.,  H.  Mitchell 
died  of  fever.  Midnight,  buried  Mitchell  at  sea  off  Jamaica. 

Sunday,  November  6. — Anchored  in  Kingston  harbour  at  8 
a.m.,  and  sent  the  sick  men  to  hospital. 

November  7. — At  Blundell  Hall ;  sent  convalescent  hands  to 
Bellevue  ;  coaling  Dacia  at  wharf. 

Soon  after  landing,  Sir  Charles  penned  the  following  to 
Lady  Bright.  Foreseeing  that  his  wife  was  sure  to  hear — 
probably  in  an  exaggerated  form — the  sad  tidings, he  thought 
it  best  to  tell  her  himself  how  things  were,  if  only  to  allay 
worse  apprehension. 


November  jth,  1870. 

I  know  that  a  short  letter  will  be  better  than  none.  I  have 
two  of  yours  to  reply  to.  I  am  writing  against  time.  Am  quite 
well.  Lost  end  of  Colon  cable,  which  will  give  me  some  trouble  ; 
the  particulars  you  will  find  in  the  enclosed  paragraph.  It  was 
bad  weather,  and  a  squall  came  on  during  a  ticklish  operation 
with  the  cable.  .  .  . 

I  cannot  write  much.  I  am  pestered  from  day  to  night  with 
somebody  or  something  turning  up.  Am  sorry  to  say  I  have 
had  much  trouble  with  sickness  on  board  the  Dacia  :  buried 
three  of  my  cable  hands,  one  a  foreman,  on  our  voyage  from 
Colon  to  Jamaica.  I  suppose  you  would  hear  of  it  from  some 

1  This  meant  much,  for  the  Caribbean  Sea  is  often  subjected  to 
very  disturbed  conditions. 

2  Owing  to  the  Captain's  illness,  Sir  Charles  had  on  several  occa- 
sions to  read  the  burial  service  over  his  late  "  shipmates." 


one  else,  and  most  likely  made  worse  than  it  has  been.  I  have 
cleared  the  men  out  of  the  ship,  and  sent  some  to  hospitals, 
and  some  to  the  mountains.  All  going  on  well  now,  but  fear  I 
shall  lose  one  or  two  more.  .  .  . 

This  sad  and  depressing  story  is  best  continued  by  extracts 
from  the  diary — necessarily  in  a  somewhat  matter-of-fact 
form,  as  follows  : — 

November  8. — Richardson  (jointer)  died  in  Kingston  Hospital 
of  fever.  Commenced  cleaning  and  fumigating  Dacia. 

November  9, — Whittingstall  (foreman)  died  in  the  hospital 
of  fever.  Buried  Richardson  at  5  p.m. 

November  10.  9  a.m. — Whittingstall  buried.  Rose  died  in 
hospital  of  fever. 

November  n. — Welhamdiedof  fever  at  the  hospital.  5  p.m., 
Rose  buried. 

Having  in  mind  the  trouble  which  the  cable  had  given,  and 
the  serious  losses  by  death,  Sir  Charles  had  foreseen — even 
before  starting  on  this  last  section — that  he  would  require 
additional  assistance.  Accordingly,  before  leaving  Colon,  he 
had  sent  a  "  cable  "  to  his  brother  Edward  requesting  him 
to  come  out  to  help  him.  Sir  Charles  now  determined  that 
under  prevailing  conditions  it  would  be  best  to  get  on  with 
the  other  sections  for  the  present.1  Moreover,  his  brother 
had  "  wired  "  in  reply  to  say  he  was  coming  out  by  the 
first  mail  ;  so  the  first  thing  to  be  done  (after  shifting  some 
cable  between  the  ships)  was  to  take  the  fleet  to  St.  Thomas, 
the  rendezvous  and  starting-point  for  future  operations. 

1  This  decision  was  made  partly  in  order  to  get  to  more  healthy 
surroundings — with  a  view  to  checking  further  sickness — as  well 
as  on  account  of  the  bad  weather  here  just  at  that  time  of  year. 


With  these  lines  of  explanation  we  will  now  return  to 
Bright's  records. 

November  15. — Started  transferring  cable  from  Bonaventure. 

November^. — Finished  transferring  cable 

November  20  (Sunday). — Nothing  done. 

November  21. — Sent  Dacia  to  St.  Thomas,  accompanied  by 

I  started  for  San  Domingo  City,  Puerto  Rico,  on  board  Vestal. 
Sr.  Lopez  with  me,  also  Mr.  James  Gutteres.1 

November  25,  10  a.m. — Anchored  off  San  Domingo.  H.M.S. 
Y antic  here.  Went  on  board  and  then  on  shore  with  Captain 
Irwin.  Called  on  the  English  Consul  and  the  Secretaries  for  War 
and  Finance,  the  President  being  away.  Left  in  the  Vestal 
at  5  p.m. 

November  28. — Arrived  at  St.  Thomas  in  the  evening. 

November  29. — Dacia  arrived  this  afternoon  with  the  Suffolk. 
Found  that  Robert  Jackson  had  died  on  board  the  former  on 
26th  inst.,  and  was  buried  at  sea  the  following  day. 

November  30. — Erecting  testing-house  at  landing-place,  etc. 

December  5. — Seine  with  Edward  on  board  being  long  overdue, 
got  the  Danish  authorities  to  despatch  the  Eider  to  search  for  her 

December   6. — Eider  returned  without  any  news  of  Seine. 

i  p.m.,  went  on  board  Suffolk  with  staff,,  weighed 
anchor  and  went  round  to  landing-place  in  Gregorie  Bay.  3.55, 
got  end  of  cable  ashore  for  the  St.  Thomas-Puerto  Rico  section, 
and  returned  to  Dacia.  Mr.  France's  connection  with  the  ex- 
pedition came  to  an  end  to-day.2 

1  Mr.  Gutteres  was  manager  in  the  West  Indies  of  the  West  India 
and  Panama  Company.  He  was  associated  with  Sir  Charles  in  the 
early  days  of  the  "  Electric  "  and  "  Magnetic  "  Companies,  and  was 
a  close  friend  to  the  last  with  the  rest  of  his  family. 

1  This  gentleman  had  been  the  chief  of  Bright's  staff,  but,  having 
other  work  in  view  at  home,  he,  at  this  juncture,  sent  in  his  resig- 
nation, and  returned  to  England  by  the  next  mail. 


December  7. — Splice  made  in  morning  between  "  S.E."  and 
"  intermediate."  Bearings  of  splice — 

David's  Point,  W.N.W. 
Saba  Island,  S.W.J  W. 

R.M.S.  Seine  arrived  in  afternoon.1  Went  on  board  and  took 
Edward  to  Dacia. 

Went  out  to  the  Suffolk  and  laid  Puerto  Rico  section  to  abreast 
of  Savana  Island.  At  night,  in  getting  end  on  board  Dacia,  with 
fresh  wind  and  swell,  the  cable  got  jammed  in  the  rocks  at  the 
bottom,  and  parted. 

December  8. — Picked  up  cable  in  afternoon,  and  spliced  on  to 
cable  on  board  Dacia. 

December  9,  1.30  a.m. — Weather  fine.  Started  paying  out 
towards  Puerto  Rico/ 

2  p.m.,  buoyed  cable  (Cuba  type)  off  San  Juan  de  Puerto  Rico. 

3  p.m.,  went  into  harbour  of  San  Juan  (the  capital  of  Puerto 
Rico)  with  Vestal  and  Titian. 

December  10. — Went  ashore.  Got  large  flat  to  put  shore  end  in  ; 
coiled  i, 800  yards  on  board  of  her. 

December  n,  6  a.m. — Went  out,  but  had  to  come  in  again, 
weather  being  too  bad. 

11.25  a.m. — Weather  having  improved,  started  for  buoy  again. 
0.30  p.m.,  mushroom  in.  Hauled  in  some  slack  and  anchored. 

Splice  made  during  afternoon. 

December  12. — Completed  shore  end  to  St.  John's  Bay,  and 
slipped  final  splice. 

Ball  given  to  the  expedition  in  evening  by  the  municipality 
to  celebrate  the  laying  of  this  section. 

December  13. — Titian  alongside,  but  great  difficulty  in  getting 
hands  employed  to  transfer  the  cable.2 

1  She  had  experienced  a  fearful  gale  for  several  days  after  passing 
the  Azores,  and  only  reached  St.  Thomas  after  the  engineer   had 
utilised  the  cinders  and  anything  to  spare  that  was  at  all  burnable  ! 

2  Owing  to   sickness   and   deaths,    Bright  was   obliged   to   have 
recourse  to  native  labour. 


Testing-house  on  shore  finished. 

December  15. — Finding  the  Spanish  hands  could  not  be  got 
to  coil  the  cable  properly,  determined  to  do  it  at  St.  Thomas. 

Left  in  Dacia  at  5  p.m. 

December  16,  9  a.m. — Arrived  at  St.  Thomas  ;  went  ashore 
to  testing-house  and  along  land  line. 

And  now  comes  another  break  in  the  cable-laying  opera- 
tions, for  whilst  the  Dacia  is  employed  in  taking  in  a  fresh 
supply  of  cable  from  the  Titian  we  find  Sir  Charles  proceeding 
to  some  of  the  Leeward  and  Windward  Islands  in  H.M.S. 
Vestal,  on  various  official  matters. 

To  extract  again  from  his  diary  : — 

December  17. — Left  in  Vestal  at  5.30  p.m.  for  St.  Kitts,  Sr.  Lopez 
with  me.  Mr.  Gutteres  also  on  board. 

December  19. — Arrived  at  Basseterre,  St.  Kitts,  at  0.30  a.m. 
Went  ashore  after  breakfast  and  saw  Mr.  Wigley,  the  adminis- 
trator, to  arrange  where  the  cable  could  be  landed.  Drove  to 
Frigate  Bay  estate.  Walked  to  a 




N.B. — No  large  timber  to  be  got. 

Left  at  5.30  for  Antigua. 

December  20. — Arrived  off  St.  John's  Harbour,  Antigua,  and 
inspected  Goat  Hill  Bay.  Four  miles  of  land  line.  Left  at  6p.m. 

Night  very  dark.  Vestal  anchoring  in  shallow  water  near 
Hurst's  Shoal,  lost  anchor  and  chain. 

December  21. — Sweeping  all  day  for  lost  anchor  and  chain. 

December  22. — Left  for  Dominica. 

December  23. — Arrived  at  Dominica  in  the  morning.  Saw 
Major  Freeling,  the  Lieutenant-Go vernor  of  Dominica,  about 
landing  the  cable  ;  also  Sir  Benjamin  Pine,  the  Governor  of 
the  Leeward  Islands,  now  here. 

Left  in  the  afternoon  for  St.  Pierre. 

December  24. — Arrived  at  St.  Pierre  in  the  morning.  Held 
meeting  with  the  Chamber  of  Commerce  and  some  deputies  of 
the  Council-General.  Sailed  for  Barbadoes  at  night. 

December  25  (Christmas  Day). — Abreast  of  St.  Lucia  in 

December  26. — Arrived  at  Barbadoes  and  anchored  in  Carlisle 
Bay  at  8  a.m. 


Called  on  Governor  Rawson.1  Drove  to  N.  end  of  bay  by 
Pelican  Point ;  then  to  S.  end  by  Fort  Charles.  Afterwards 
called  on  General  Munro. 

Left  for  Guadeloupe  in  the  afternoon. 

December  29. — Arrived  at  Basse  Terre,  Guadeloupe,  at  5.30 

Went  ashore  to  see  the  Governor  and  discuss  the  telegraph 
question.  Left  at  10  p.m.  for  English  Harbour. 

December  30. — Arrived  at  English  Harbour  at  10  a.m.  Went 
ashore,  saw  Mr.  Vizard,  and  sailed  for  St.  Thomas  in  the  after- 

December  31. — Arrived  at  St.  Thomas.  Found  Dacia  still 
transferring  cable  from  Titian.  Mail  in  to-day.2 

Sunday,  January  i,  1871. — No  work  ;  service  on  board  Vestal  ; 
called  on  Governor,  Consul,  etc. 

January  2. — Shannon  arrived  from  England  with  a  new  jointer 
on  board. 

January  3. — Having  finished  turning  over  cable  during  after- 
noon, set  out  (at  5.30)  for  Puerto  Rico. 

January  4,  8.30  a.m. — Arrived  at  San  Juan  de  Puerto  Rico. 
Vestal  with  us.3  Mr.  Latimer  came  on  board.  Went  with  Sr. 
Lopez  to  see  the  Governor. 

January  5. — Transferring  cable  and  getting  ready  for  Puerto 
Rico- Jamaica  section. 

January  8. — Landed  shore  end  near  St.  John's  Gate,  and 
buoyed  end. 

1  Afterwards  Sir  Rawson  W.   Rawson,   K.C.M.G.,  C.B. 

2  By  this  mail  Sir  Charles  received  a  letter  which  formed  a  curious 
and  striking  instance  of  Post  Office  zeal.     It  was  a  letter  forwarded 
by  the  G.P.O.,  London,  and  addressed  : — 

"  To  Sir  Charles  Bright, 

"  England. 
(//  not  there,  try  elsewhere}." 

3  Sir   Charles   had   returned   to   his   quarters   aboard   the   Dacia 
on  last  reaching  St.  Thomas. 


January  9. — 6.30  a.m. — Anchor  up,  and  set  on  for  buoyed 
end,  cable  on  drum. 

i  p.m.,  splice  with  shore  end  finished.  Started  paying  out 
towards  Holland  Bay,  Jamaica,  a  matter  of  nearly  700  miles.  ' 

January  10,  0.40  a.m. — Stopped  ship  owing  to  appearance  of 
a  fault,  supposed  to  be  in  lead,  but  found  to  be  in  cable. 

Rode  to  cable  till  daylight.  7.30  a.m.,  after  effecting  repair, 
went  ahead  easy.  8.30,  stopped  ship's  engines.  Took  sounding, 
32  fathoms,  sand — about  ij  mile  from  land. 

We  will  now  leave  the  diary  temporarily,  and  confine 
ourselves  to  a  more  general  and  less  technical  description. 
Sir  Charles  and  his  brother — who  had  joined  the  expedition 
by  request — kept  alternate  watches  in  charge  of  the  laying 
operations.  The  large  cabin  they  occupied  was  imme- 
diately under  the  paying-out  machine.  When  laying  cable 
the  rumbling  noise  of  the  apparatus  acted  as  a  lullaby 
to  the  one  resting  below  ;  while,  from  habit,  any  stoppage 
of  the  machine  at  once  roused  the  sleeper.  This  may  well 
be  understood  when  the  fracture  of  a  cable  in  deep  water 
with  a  rough  bottom  probably  meant  an  expense  of  many 
thousands  of  pounds  and  several  months  in  its  recovery. 

H.M.S.  Vestal  went  ahead  as  pilot,  and  the  Dacia  coasted 
along  a  few  miles  off  Puerto  Rico,  under  the  lee  of  the  island, 
with  the  sweet  scent  of  orange  and  lemon. trees  wafted  off 
during  the  night.  At  daybreak  on  the  morrow  (January  I2th) 
they  bore  over  towards  San  Domingo  (and  Haiti),  past 
Saona  Island,  and  across  the  great  bay  leading  to  Alta 
Vela,  a  rock  resembling  a  "high  sail."  The  trade  wind 
from  the  east  here  blew  heavily,  and  the  sea  rose  so  much 
that  it  was  with  difficulty  that  the  speed  of  the  Dacia  could 
be  kept  low  enough  for  safe  "  paying  out/'  and  yet  at  the 


same  time  avoid  being  pooped  by  the  following  waves.  At 
night  on  the  fourth  day  out,  more  than  six  hundred  miles 
had  been  laid  without  any  serious  hitch  ;  but  at  daybreak 
— when  Jamaica  was  already  in  sight — a  fault  showed 
itself,  after  having  passed  overboard.  This  it  was,  of 
course,  necessary  to  recover.  The  depth  was  about,  1,200 
fathoms — nearly  a  mile  and  a  half.  However,  the  fault 
was  got  on  board  once  more,  in  safety,  and  cut  out. 

But,  after  the  splice  had  been  made,  in  passing  the  cable 
from  the  bows  to  the  stern  again,  the  cable  parted,  through 
getting  foul  of  the  propeller,  owing  to  a  strong  current. 
Had  it  not  been  for  an  unfortunate,  but  excusable,  error 
on  the  part  of  the  navigating  lieutenant  of  the  Vestal— 
who  mistook  Cape  Espada  at  the  south-east  end  of  San 
Domingo  for  the  end  of  Saona  Island,  and  thus  piloted  the 
Dacia  many  miles  out  of  her  true  course — the  cable  would 
have  been  laid  to  within  a  few  miles  of  Holland  Bay,  her 
destination,  when  the  fault  occurred  and  the  accident  took 
place.  As  it  was,  it  required  months  of  grappling  and  a 
very  heavy  outlay  to  raise  the  cable  again,  the  bottom  of 
the  sea  about  here  (off  Morant  Point)  being  a  nest  of  volcanic 
ridges  interspersed  with  coral  walls.  These  latter  had  a  way 
of  breaking  grapnels,  and,  occasionally,  the  still  more 
precious  grappling  rope. 

To  return  to  Sir  Charles'  diary  : — 

January  15. — The  cable  having  parted,  Buoy  No.  I  was  at 
once  lowered,  and  we  then  proceeded  to  prepare  for  grappling, 
whilst  the  Vestal  left  for  Kingston. 

5  p.m.,  grapnel  down. 


January  16,   17,   18,   and   19. — Dacia  grappling. 

January  20. — The  weather  being  bad,  proceeded  to  Kingston 
harbour  for  provisions,  as  well  as  to  effect  lengthy  repairs  to  ship 
and  engines. 

February  4. — Left  Kingston  for  grappling  ground. 

February  6,  8  a.m. — On  reaching  supposed  position  of  grappling 
ground  the  sea  had  got  up  too  much  to  grapple  ;  besides  being 
too  hazy  to  find  buoy. 

6  p.m.,  lowered  grapnel. 

February  7,  7  a.m. — Commenced  heaving  up.  Found  one 
prong  of  grapnel  broken  off  and  two  straightened  out.  Too 
much  sea  for  grappling. 

February  8. — Strong  breeze  from  N.E.  Weather  thick.  No 
observation  at  noon. 

5  p.m.,  wind  and  sea  moderating.  Put  down  grapnel  in 

February  10. — Have  so  far  been  unable  to  g£t  a  drift  across 
the  cable. 

February  n,  9.30  a.m. — Picked  up  grapnel.  Found  prongs 
covered  with  chalk  and  coral. 

3.40  p.m.,  lowered  grapnel  again. 

February  12. — Blowing  hard  with  rain.  Too  much  sea  for 

February  15. — Grappling  during  day. 

i  p.m.,  took  line  in.  All  the  prongs  of  grapnel  bent  and 
scored  by  rocks. 

February  17. — Lowered  grapnel  again. 

February  18. — Too  much  sea  for  grappling,  so  left  Dacia  in 
Vestal  for  Kingston. 

February  24. — After  waiting  for  mails,  returned  in  the  Vestal 
to  grappling  ground. 

February  25. — Stormy.  Gale  from  E.  Could  not  find  Dacia 
or  buoy. 

February  26  (Sunday). — Met  with  Dacia.  Too  stormy  to 
work.  Went  for  shelter  to  Port  Morant  and  put  live  stock  and 
provisions  on  board.  I  rejoined  Dacia. 


February  27  and  28. — At  Port  Morant.  Too  rough  to  do  any- 

March  I. — Out  at  daylight.  Found  buoy  with  staff  broken 
short  off. 

March  2,  3,  4,  and  5. — Too  much  sea  for  work. 

March  6. — Grappling  all  night.  At  10.40  a.m.  strain  rose  to 
10,000  and  remained  so.  Began  picking  up. 

i  p.m.,  grapnel  inboard  ;  four  prongs  completely  straight- 
ened, but  no  cable  ! 

Being  short  of  coal,  started  for  Port  Royal,  and  remained  out- 
side all  night. 

March  8. — Commenced  coaling  from  barque  Malta. 

March  9. — Suffolk  in  from  St.  Thomas.  Commenced  coaling 

March  n. — Suffolk  alongside  to  take  over  cable,  grappling 
rope,  etc.,  from  Dacia  for  grappling. 

March  12  to  23. — Coaling,  transferring  cable  and  repairs  on 
board  Dacia  and  Suffolk. 

March  28. — First  day  on  which  weather  has  been  at  all  fit  for 
grappling  after  above  changes.  Dacia  went  out  to  grappling 
ground,  but  had  to  return  to  Port  Morant  for  shelter. 

April  i. — Joined  Dacia  at  Port  Morant. 

April  2. — Set  out  for  grappling. 

April  3. — Had  to  take  shelter  again  in  Port  Morant. 

April  6. — Still  blowing  hard  from  N.E.     Heavy  sea  outside. 

The  Suffolk  being  now  available  and  ready  for  grappling 
work,  Sir  Charles,  at  this  stage,  determined  to  leave  her  with 
his  brother,  Mr.  Rae,  and  half  the  cable  staff,  to  continue 
the  grappling  for— and  to  complete — the  lost  Puerto  Rico- 
Jamaica  cable,  whilst  he  went  on  with  the  laying  of  the 
remaining  sections  connecting  up  the  long  string  of  Lee- 
ward and  Windward  Islands. 

Being  short  of  staff— owing  to  sickness   and    the  return 


home  of  Mr.  France — Sir  Charles  Bright  engaged  the  services 
of  Mr.  Henry  Benest,1  captain  of  a  trading  steamer  belong- 
ing to  Messrs.  Nunes  Bros. 
The  diary  continues  : — 

April  7  (Good  Friday). — Started  at  daylight  in  the  Dacia  for 
San  Juan  de  Puerto  Rico. 

April  8. — At  sea  off  the  coast  of  Haiti.  Weather  fine.  Sea 

April 9  (Easter  Day). — Divine  service  on  quarter  deck.     Fine. 

April  10. — After  a  dead  calm,  it  rained  in  torrents  and  blew 

April  12. — Arrived  at  San  Juan  de  Puerto  Rico  in  morning. 

Tested  Jamaica  cable,  and  left  at  6  p.m.  for  St.  Thomas. 

April  13. — Arrived  at  St.  Thomas. 

April  14. — Started  transferring  shore-end  from  No.  4  tank. 

April  17. — Started  transferring  deep-sea  cable  from  No.  3 
to  No.  4  tank. 

April  19. — Commenced  putting  new  tubes  in    ship's  boilers. 

April  22. — Dacia's  crew  "  signed  off  "  at  British  Consul's 
and  a  new  crew  shipped,  only  the  officers,  boatswain,  and 
carpenter  of  the  old  crew  re-shipping.2 

April  23  (Sunday). — Liberty  ashore.3 

April  24  to  28. — Transferring  cable. 

April  29. — Dacia's  old  crew  left  by  German  mail  steamer  for 

April 30  (Sunday). — Boarded  H.M.S.  Myrmidon,  and  arranged 

1  Now  a  telegraph  engineer  of  great  experience,  in  constant  charge 
of  the  Silvertown  Company's  Cable  expeditions. 

2  The  period  was  over  for  which  they  had  "  signed  on,"  and  few 
cared  to  risk  a  longer  stay  in  the  midst  of  such  ill-luck,  with  death 
constantly  hanging  over  them.     This  loss  of  old  hands,  of  course, 
made  things  all  the  more  difficult  for  Sir  Charles. 

3  This  liberty  to  the  new  hands  was,  by  reason  of  their  agree- 
ments, unavoidable. 


for  her  to  accompany  the  Dacia  as  escort  whilst  laying  the 
remaining  sections.  Came  round  Water  Island  in  morning  to 
splice  on  to  shore-end.  Anchored  in  Gregorie  Bay.  Making  all 
ready  for  starting  laying  St.  Kitts  section. 

May  i,  1871,  8.40  a.m. — Anchor  up  and  jib  set.  Started 
paying  out. 

5.55  p.m. — Light  off  scale.  7.40,  cut  cable  aft  and  passed  it 
to  bows — fault  at  sea.  Picked  up  slowly  all  night,  having  to 
stop  from  time  to  time  on  strain  becoming  excessive,  to  get 
the  cable  clear.  Cable  came  up  with  the  outer  covering  torn 
off  in  some  places  and  the  wires  abraded  by  rocks. 

May  2. — Picking  up  slowly.  Fault  estimated  at  22  miles 
off ;  by  Blavier's  test,  18  miles. 

May  3,  9.55  a.m. — Sudden  jerk  on  cable  while  coming 
up  easily.  Eventually  it  came  up  quite  slack,  after  the  dynamo- 
meter jumped.  Found  it  had  parted  at  the  bottom,  the  end 
being  torn  to  pieces  by  rocks.  Two  hundred  and  eighty-four 
fathoms  came  in  after  the  break. 

0.30  p.m.,  grapnel  down  on  the  bank,  28  fathoms.  Grappling 
with  74  fathoms  of  lines,  including  30  fathoms  of  chain. 

i  p.m.,  bottom  at  25  fathoms.  1.20.,  no  bottom  at  80. 
Hauled  in  grapnel.  Three  prongs  broken. 

2.15  p.m.,  put  down  grapnel,  66  fathoms  of  rope  and  30 
fathoms  of  chain.  5.50  p.m.,  picked  up  grapnel.  Three 
prongs  broken  off,  two  broken  in  half. 

6.25  p.m.,  lowered  grapnel  again,  but  strain  very  irregular, 
and  picked  up  at  7.30  with  all  the  prongs  gone. 

8.2Op.m.,  grapnel  down  again.     9.10,  up;  one  prong  broken. 

9.33  p.m.,  grapnel  down.  10.25,  hooked  cable.  10.40,  bight 
of  cable  (intermediate)  out  of  water.  Buoyed  St.  Thomas  end. 

May  4,  i  a.m. — Commenced  picking  up  sea-end  of  cable. 

8.50  a.m.,  cable  parted  about  a  fathom  inboard,  coming  in 
much  chafed,  and  wires  gone  in  places. 

May  6,  4.40  p.m. — Started  paying  out  again,  and  signalled 
Myrmidon  "  Steer  E.  by  S.  J  S."  u.iop.m.,  stopped  for  defect 
in  cable. 


May  7,  5.40  p.m. — Started  paying  out  again  towards  St. 
Kitts.  .  .  . 

May  8,  10  p.m. — Nearing  St.  Kitts  landing-place.  Stopped 
engines.  10.30,  let  go  anchor  in  harbour. 

May  9. — Sent  testing-house  on  shore.  Went  out  with  Captains 
Holder,  R.N.,  and  Dowell,  to  examine  landing-place. 

May  10. — House  erected  by  Mr.  Tarbutt  and  men. 

Laid  shore-end  round  Bluff  Head,  and  completed  St.  Thomas- 
St.  Kitts  (or  St.  Christopher)  section. 

May  IT. — Started  transferring  cable.  Went  ashore  to  see 
the  Administrator. 

May  1 8. — Mr.  Matthew  Gray  arrived  from  England,  accom- 
panied by  Admiral  Dunlop  ;  the  former  came  on  board,  the 
latter  went  on  to  the  Windward  Islands. 

May  24. — Schooner  Queen  came  alongside  to  take  in  shore- 
end  for  Antigua  section. 

May  25,  5.40  a.m. — Started  from  Basse  Terre  with  the  schooner 
to  land  the  Antigua  shore-end. 

3  p.m,  shore-end  landed.  Sent  Captain  Dowell  on  board 
schooner  to  join  the  homeward  mail,  invalided  ;  also  the  boat- 

May  26,  3.25  a.m. — Started  laying  cable   towards   Antigua. 

i.o  p.m.,  stopped  for  slight  fault. 

4.0,  having  cut  out  fault,  resumed  paying  out. 

5.0,  buoyed  end  of  cable  off  Antigua  landing-place. 

5.20,  anchored  in  Goat  Hill  Bay. 

May  27. — Put  up  testing-house.  Landed  shore-end  and 
completed  St.  Kitts-Antigua  section. 

May  29. — Laid  second  shore-end  (for  Guadeloupe  section) 
and  buoyed  it. 

8.30  p.m.,  started  laying  towards  Guadeloupe,  so  as  to 
approach  there  at  daylight. 

May   30,  10   a.m. — Buoyed   end   of  cable   off  Guadeloupe. 

May  31. — Went  into  the  country  to  see  the  Governor.  Test- 
ing-house erected. 

June  2,  6.30  a.m. — Up  anchor.     Commenced  coiling  cable  in 


boats.     Strong  tide  to  N.W.  delayed  landing  shore-end  till  7.15 

June  3. — Tarbutt  arrived  from  St.  Kitts  in  schooner  Queen. 

6.45  p.m.,  spliced  on  to  shore-end,  and  started  paying  out 
towards  buoyed  end  of  cable  already  laid  from  Antigua. 

June  4,  11.13  a-m- — Reached  buoy.  5  p.m,  slipped  final 
splice  Antigua-Guadeloupe  section. 

6.30  p.m.,  anchored  in  St.  John's  Harbour  for  the  night. 

June  5. — Went  to  English  Harbour  to  arrange  about  coaling 
there.  Started  transferring  cable  on  board  Dacia.  Land  line 
not  finished  yet. 

June  6  and  7. — Transferring  cable. 

June  8. — Dacia  taking  in  coal  at  English  Harbour.  Mean- 
while I  stayed  at  St.  John's  with  Colonel  Menzies. 

June  9. — Rejoined  Dacia  at  English  Harbour. 

June  ii. — Left  English  Harbour  in  Dacia  at  5  p.m. 

June  12. — Arrived  at  landing-place  at  daylight.  3.30  p.m., 
shore-end  for  next  section  (to  Dominica)  landed. 

June  13,  1.30  a.m. — Started  paying  out  towards  Dominica, 
so  as  to  near  there  in  daylight.  2.11  a.m.,  Saint's  Island  (the 
westernmost  island)  abeam. 

5  a.m.,  Dominica  in  sight. 

Noon,  stopped  paying  out  and  buoyed  end  of  cable. 

1. 10,  anchored  in  15  fathoms.  Went  in  afternoon  to  select 
exact  landing-place  and  arrange  with  the  Acting-Governor 
about  land-line. 

June  14. — Testing-house  sent  on  shore.  Mr.  Benest  in  charge 
of  working  party. 

June  15.— Testing-house  erected,  and  trench  for  shore-end 

June  16. — Anchor  up  first  thing  in  the  morning,  and  set  on 
for  landing-place. 

Noon,  shore-end  landed,  and  started  laying  forward  buoyed 

4  p.m,  final  splice  lowered,  thus  putting  through  Antigua- 
Dominian  section.  Back  to  anchorage  off  Government  House. 


June  17. — Transference  and  arranging  of  cable  for  next  section 

June  1 8  (Sunday). — Work  continuing  but  very  slowly,  owing 
to  the  necessity  of  employing  black  labour.  Tarbutt  arrived  in 
R.M.S.  Mersey  from  Guadeloupe.  Ball  at  the  Governor's. 

June  20. — Sent  Currich  to  hospital.  4  p.m,  landed  shore-end 
for  Dominica-Martinique  section. 

(N.B. — Message  during  day  that  part  of  Silvertown  Works 
had  been  burnt  down.) 

June  24,  3.48  a.m. — Commenced  paying  out  to  Martinique. 

ii. 20  a.m.,  close  to  Martinique.     Stopped  paying  out. 

In  buoying  end,  the  buoy  got  foul  of  the  propeller  (owing  to 
strong  current),  and  sank. 

Went  into  anchorage,  placing  cutter  to  mark  position  of  sunken 

Went  on  shore  to  the  hotel  in  afternoon.  Admiral  Dunlop 

June  25. — Sent  away  steam  launch  and  two  boats  to  grapple 
for  cable.  Picked  up,  and  buoyed  end  during  day. 

June  26. — Out  in  morning  with  Dacia.  Landed  shore-end  ; 
and  put  through  Dominica-Martinique  section,  during  day. 

Arno  arrived  in  evening.  Admiral  Dunlop  and  Mr.  Gutteres 
go  in  her  to  Guadeloupe. 

June  28. — Landed  shore-end  for  cable  to  St.  Lucia. 

Dejeuner  given  at  the  hotel  by  the  town.  M.  Borde, 
President  of  the  Council,  presided. 

June-  29,  1.40  a.m. — Picked  up  buoyed  shore-end,  and  started 
laying  towards  St.  Lucia.  During  night  ship  rolling  and  pitching 
a  good  deal  whilst  paying  out  cable. 

i  p.m,  off  St.  Lucia.  Stopped  paying  out  and  buoyed  cable. 
Went  into  harbour  and  anchored. 

June  30. — Made  all  ready  for  landing  shore-end  in  Cul  de 
Sac  Bay  to-morrow. 

July  i. — Landed  shore-end,  and  joined  on  to  D.S.  at  buoy, 
thus  completing  Martinique-St.  Lucia  section. 

July  2. — Coaling  all  day. 

A  A 


July  3,  9.30  a.m. — Cast  off  from  wharf  in  morning,  and  set 
on  to  Cul  de  Sac  Bay. 

4.30  a.m.,  landed  shore  end  for  St.  Lucia-St.  Vincent  section. 

After  buoying,  returned  to  anchorage  for  English  mail  in  the 
evening.  Admiral  Dunlop  and  Mr.  Gutteres  on  board.  Former 
goes  on  to  Trinidad,  latter  to  St.  Vincent. 

ii  p.m.,  hove  up  anchor  and  set  on  for  St.  Vincent.1 

july  4. — Anchored  off  Kingstown,  St.  Vincent,  in  21  fathoms 
of  water. 

Went  in  launch  to  Greathead  Bay,  Cane  Garden  Bay,  and 
Otley  Hull  Bay.  Chose  the  latter. 

July  7. — Landed  shore-end  ;  also  landed  and  buoyed  the 
Barbadoes  shore-end. 

July  8,  3.30  a.m. — Started  laying  back  to  St.  Lucia.  8.  am., 
in  leaving  the  lee  of  the  land  and  entering  channel  ship  pitched 
very  much. 

4  p.m.,  entering  Cul  de  Sac  Bay.  6.30  p.m,  slipped  final 
splice  with  buoyed  end  and  went  into  Castries  Harbour. 

July  9  (Sunday).- — Lunched  with  Governor  Des  Voeux,  and 
left  in  the  evening  for  Forte  de  France,  Martinique,  to  dock 
the  Dacia. 

July  10,  6.30  a.m. — Arrived  at  Forte  de  France.  Went 
into  docks. 

3  p.m,  went  ashore  with  Mr.  Gray  and  Sr.  Lopez.  Called 
on  the  Governor. 

July   n. — Dock  hands  emptying  dock  and  shoring  ship. 

Called  on  the  Directeur  d'Interieur.  The  Governor  and 
party  on  board  the  Dacia  in  the  evening  looking  at  the  cable 
and  machinery. 

July  12. — Dock  hands  still  engaged  on  ship.  Mr.  Tarbutt 
arrived  from  St.  Vincent. 

1  Before  laying  the  cable  between  St.  Lucia  and  St.  Vincent  it  was 
necessary  to  proceed  to  the  latter  to  select  the  landing-place  and 
make  other  preliminary  arrangements. 


Went  to  the  country  house  of  the  Governor  near  Balata — six 
hours  driving  there,  two  hours  back. 

July  13. — Dock  hands  and  crew  engaged  in  scraping  and 
painting  ship. 

To  a  dinner-party  at  the  Governor's  in  the  evening. 

July   14,    15    and   16. — Scraping   and   painting   ship. 

July  17. — Commenced  letting  water  in  dock  at  0.45  p.m. 
Dock  full  at  1.55. 

2  p.m.,  started  warping  out.  4.30  p.m.,  anchored  in  har- 

6.15  p.m.,  accounts  settled.  Cast  off  from  buoys,  and  set 
on  for  Barbadoes. 

July  18,  4  p.m. — Anchored  off  Bridgetown,  Barbadoes. 

July  19. — Called  on  Governor  Rawson  *  and  General  Munro. 
Dined  with  the  latter.  The  former  pressed  me  to  make  a  stay 
at  Government  House,  but  I  fear  that  will  be  impossible. 

Started  taking  over  cable  from  Benledi. 

July  30. — Suffolk  arrived  with  Edward  on  board,  besides  a 
fresh  supply  of  grappling  rope  and  grapnels. 

August  i. — Went  with  Edward  and  Gray  to  examine  possible 
landing-places.  Selected  a  site. 

E.B.  and  self  dined  with  the  Governor. 

4  p.m.,  got  under  way  and  set  on  for  Demerara,  to  arrange 
for  landing  cable  there. 

August^,  5  p.m. — Arrived  off  Georgetown,  Demerara. 

Went  ashore  to  Beckwith's  Hotel.     Mr.  Mason  called. 

August  6.     Went  to  inspect  the  proposed  landing-place. 

August  7. — Mail  day. 

August  8. — Saw  Babington. 

August  9. — Looked  at  various  other  points  for  landing  the 

August  10. — Suffolk  in  at  3  p.m. 

1  Then  Governor-in-Chief  of  the  Windward  Isles,  with  head- 
quarters at  Barbadoes,  and  afterwards  Sir  Rawson  W.  Rawson, 
K.C.M.G.,  C.B. 




•>        3  C 


be  S.)     Nothing  in  sight. 

11.30,  lightship  bearing  S.W.,  about  3  miles  distant. 
Noon,  waited  for  tide.     (High  water  at  5.38  p.m.) 
3.50  p.m.,  resumed  paying  out  up  the  river  Demerara. 


Soundings,  17  ft.,  and  ship  drawing  u  ft.  6  in.  aft,  9  ft.  for- 

5.12,  cable  end  buoyed,  and  a  can  buoy  put  on  bight.  5.15, 
returned  to  Georgetown. 

N.B. — Admiralty  chart  533  of  Demerara  River  not  reliable  ; 
several  inaccuracies. 

August  18. — As  we  could  not  get  nearer  than  within  10  miles, 
arranged  with  the  Governor  for  the  use  of  the  Governor  Mundy 
schooner  for  landing  the  rest  of  the  cable  in  the  very  shallow 
water.  Had  to  get  her  cleared  out  and  prepared  for  receiving 

August  20  (Sunday). — Cable  all  coiled  in  hold  of  schooner. 

August  21. — Started  at  daylight  landing  shore-end  from 
schooner  (Governor  Mundy) ,  steamer  Stirling  assisting.  Hard  at 
it  all  day.  Governor  Scott  with  me  during  part  of  the  work. 
100  convicts  assisting  on  shore  cutting  trench  and  hauling. 
Great  difficulty  in  getting  so  heavy  a  cable  1  through  the  mud, 
about  the  consistency  of  cream.  Knocked  off  work  at  dusk. 

August  22,  9.20  a.m. — Landed  end  on  Sophia  Estate,  3  miles 
from  Georgetown.  During  afternoon  made  splice  with  cable 
previously  laid. 

August  23. — St.   Vincent-Barbadoes   cable  laid  from  Dacia. 

August  24. — Suffolk  laying  cable  further  out  from  the  buoy, 
ready  for  the  Dacia  to  continue  the  section  between  here  and 
Trinidad,  after  turning  over  cable. 

August  25. — Went  to  Berbice  (New  Amsterdam),  with  Mr. 
Gray  and  Mr.  Cox,  to  inspect  the  route  of  the  land-line  towards 
Surinam,  which  connects  on  to  Cayenne. 

6   p.m.,  arrived  at  Berbice.     Went  to  Britton's  Hotel. 

After  inspecting  the  land-line  and  station,  the  Dacia 
being  well  employed  for  some  days  taking  in  fresh  cable, 

1  No  less  than  thirty-five  miles  of  the  heavy  shore-end  type  had 
to  be  laid — owing  to  the  shallowness  of  the  approach  for  a  long 
distance,  and  the  liability  of  ships  anchoring  over  the  route. 


Sir  Charles — whilst  at  Berbice — appears  to  have  accepted 
an  invitation  from  the  genial  head  of  the  Colonial  Police 
(Colonel  Fraser)  to  accompany  him  on  the  Government 
schooner  during  a  round  of  inspection,  extending  to  a  trip 
up  the  River  Corentyn,  where  it  was  necessary  to  take  to 
canoes  paddled  by  natives. 

Game  was  met  with  at  first  ;  but  on  getting  higher  up 
the  river  the  nearly  naked  aborigines  in  the  interior  drove 
all  the  deer,  etc.,  away.  Some  of  the  provisions  having 
been  capsized  out  of  a  canoe,  it  became  necessary  to  shoot 
and  cook  the  large  lizards  (iguana),  which  proved  anything 
but  bad  eating.  They  are  desperately  ugly,  with  greenish 
brown  wrinkled  skins,  forbidding  snouts,  and  serrated 
backs  :  they  taste,  however,  very  like  rabbit  or  fowl. 

While  on  this  expedition  Sir  Charles  killed  a  tremendous 
boa  constrictor  (or  anaconda)  by  a  shot  through  the  head. 
It  was  hauled  up  to  the  branch  of  a  tree  by  a  noosed  rope, 
and  was  still  wriggling  the  following  day.  None  of  the 
natives  would  go  near  it,  but  a  negro  servant  was  slung 
up  and  took  the  skin  off,  measuring  23  feet. 

To  return  again  to  the  diary  :— 

August  26. — Started  in  revenue  schooner  Petrel,  at  3  p.m., 
accompanied  by  Messrs.  Cox,  Gray,  and  Godfrey.  Anchored 
at  Bannaboo,  near  the  mouth  of  the  Corentyn  River,  at  night. 

August  27. — Left  at  ii  a.m.  with  the  rising  tide. 

August  28,  7  a.m.— Arrived  at  Orealla.  Landed  and  went 
out  on  the  Savannah  shooting.  Returned  at  9  ;  too  hot.  Went 
out  again  at  5  p.m.  for  an  hour. 

August  29. — Out  at  5.30  a.m.  Left  in  boats  for  Siparota  at  2.50 
p.m.  ;  arrived  there  at  6.15.  Swung  our  hammocks  in  the 
Indian  lodges. 


August  30. — Off  in  morning  through  the  woods.  Breakfasted 
in  an  Indian  lodge  six  miles  off.  Got  back  to  camp  at  night. 

August  31. — Started  at  10  a.m.  in  boats  for  the  schooner. 
Beat  two  islands  for  deer  on  the  way. 

September  i. — Anchored  off  Phillips'  (collector's)  Station.  Left 
at  9  a.m.,  and  anchored  for  night  at  Three  Sisters  Island. 

September  2. — Arrived  off  the  police  station  at  entrance  to 
Corentyn  River  early  in  the  morning.  Had  to  wait  for  the  tide 
till  night  for  crossing  the  bar. 

September  3  (Sunday). — Arrived  off  Georgetown  in  morning. 
Left  with  Mr.  Gray  in  the  French  steamer  Guyane  for  Trinidad 
(Port  of  Spain)  in  afternoon. 

September  4. — Arrived  at  Port  of  Spain  at  np.m.,  and  went 
to  Madame  Pantin's  Hotel. 

September  5. — Dacia  arrived  in  the  morning.  Edward,  Cap- 
tain Hunter,  and  Sr.  Lopez  came  to  the  hotel. 

September  6. — Called  on  Governor  Longley.  On  board  at 
noon.  Busy  there  rest  of  day. 

September  7. — Transferring  cable. 

(Mr.  Gutteres  informs  me  that  the  St.  Thomas-St.  Kitts 
cable  has  been  damaged  in  the  harbour  of  the  latter  place,  during 
the  recent  hurricane,  by  ships  dragging  their  anchors.) 

September  8. — Mails  made  up  for  England.  Sent  home  Benest, 
Baxter,  and  Lopez — all  more  or  less  invalided. 

Left  for  Moruga  (the  proposed  landing-place  for  the  southern 
cable)  at  night. 

September  9. — Passed  through  Serpent's  Mouth  in  morning. 
Off  Moruga  at  2  p.m.  Went  ashore  and  examined  landing-place 

Started  back  for  Demerara  at  5  p.m. 

September  10  (Sunday).— Weather  fine.  Off  Venezuelan  coast. 
Divine  service  on  quarter-deck. 

September  n.— Arrived  off  the  Demerara  light-ship,  and 
anchored  near  her  at  10  p.m. 

At  this  stage  Blight's  diary  may  be  left,  as  the  laying 


of  the  subsequent  cables  did  not  follow  in  ready  sequence. 
It  suffices,  however,  to  say  that  within  a  month  the  remain- 
ing sections  were  laid.  These  connected  up  the  islands  of 
Trinidad,  Grenada,  and  Barbadoes  with  the  rest  of  the 
telegraphic  system. 

At  Trinidad,  the  Demerara  cable  was  landed  at  the 
south-east  corner  of  the  island  ;  while  the  continuing  section 
northwards  to  Grenada  was  taken  from  Maccaripe  Bay.  The 
connection  to  Port  of  Spain  (the  capital)  on  the  west  side, 
was  made  by  means  of  a  long  land-line.  A  great  part  of 
this  was  erected  through  a  dense  forest  of  more  than  fifty 
miles,  which  had  to  be  cleared  away  by  a  small  army  of  wood- 
cutters, for  a  width  of  at  least  forty  feet,  for  a  considerable 

On  the  completion  of  the  various  sections  connecting  up 
the  Windward  Islands  and  British  Guiana,  we  find  Sir 
Charles  leaving  for  St.  Thomas,  which  was  reached  on 
October  I2th. 

After  at  last  bringing  to  a  successful  issue  this  chain  of 
cables,  Bright  became  so  weak  from  recurrent  attacks  of 
malarious  fever  that  his  medical  adviser  peremptorily 
ordered  him  to  England  for  some  months  at  least.  Thus, 
he  very  reluctantly  took  the  mail  from  St.  Thomas  1  a  week 

1  He  was,  in  fact,  in  so  exhausted  a  conditon  that  he  had  to  be 
carried  on  board  the  steamer. 

The  doctor  had  expressed  himself  strongly  that  he  would  not 
answer  for  his  life  if  he  stayed  ;  indeed,  his  health  and  constitution 
were  seriously  undermined,  and  he  suffered  the  ill  effects  for  the 
remainder  of  his  Ijfe, 


after  his  arrival  there,  leaving  his  brother,  with  Captain 
Edward  Hunter,  R.N.,1  and  Mr.  Leslie  Hill,  to  go  on  grap- 
pling for  the  lost  cable  between  Jamaica  and  Puerto  Rico, 
as  well  as  that  between  Jamaica  and  Colon. 

These  West  Indian  cables  have  always  given  a  deal  of 
trouble,  owing  not  only  to  the  unfavourable  character  of 
the  bottom,  but  also  to  frequent  attacks  at  the  hands — 
or,  rather,  at  the  snouts — of  saw  and  sword-fishes,  not  to 
mention  the  teredo,  previously  referred  to. 


Adventures  and  Reminiscences 

The  expedition  was  naturally  greeted  on  the  successful 
completion  of  each  section  with  the  greatest  enthusiasm. 
Island  after  island  was  en  fete,  and  a  more  hospitable  race 
than  the  West  Indian  cannot  be  found. 

It  would  be  impossible  to  enumerate  all  the  attentions 
shown  to  Sir  Charles  and  the  members  of  the  Telegraph 
Squadron.  The  civil  and  military  chiefs  vied  with  one 
another  in  making  pleasant  the  frequent  intervals  of  per- 
haps weeks  on  shore  that  had  to  be  spent  while  shifting 
cable  from  the  depot  vessels  to  the  laying  steamers,  fitting 
up  the  stations,  and  connecting  with  them  the  cables  and 
necessary  land-lines. 

Jamaica,  as  the  principal  centre  of  the  cables  (from 
north,  east,  and  south),  was — for  a  considerable  part  of 

1  H.M.S.  Vestal  had  been  paid  off,  and  thus  the  gallant  Captain 
was  available, 


the  enterprise — the  main  rendezvous  for  transhipping,  coal 
ing,  and  provisioning  ;  so  more  was  seen  and  experienced 
of  that  island  and  its  inhabitants  than  of  others.  In  the 
official  circles  frequent  entertainments  were  given  by  the 
Governor,  Sir  John  Peter  Grant,  aided  by  his  able  aide-de- 
camp, Major  (afterwards  Sir  Owen)  Lanyon,  the  son  of 
Sir  Peter  Lanyon,  an  old  Belfast  friend  of  Sir  Charles',  as 
well  as  by  the  chief  of  the  forces,  Col.  Sir  Henry  Johnston, 
Bart.,  and  Sir  John  Lucie  Smith,  the  Chief  Justice  of  the 
island.  Among  the  many  leaders  in  the  island  who  made 
time  pass  pleasantly  for  the  members  of  the  cable  squadron 
were  General  Munro,  the  Commander-in-Chief,  with  Colonel 
Harman  (afterwards  Sir  George  Harman,  K.C.B.)  the 
Adjutant-General,  and  Col.  Chesney,  R.E.  (later  General 
Sir  George  Chesney,  K.C.B.,  M.P.),  Major  W.  W.  Lynch,  of 
the  Queen's  Royals,  and  Captain  Gordon,  R.A. 

The  Griefs  of  Grappling 

It  now  remained  for  Sir  Charles'  brother  Edward,  as- 
sisted by  Capt.  Hunter  and  Mr.  Leslie  Hill,  to  recover  and 
"  put  through  "  the  two  lost  cables— between  Jamaica 
and  Puerto  Rico  on  the  one  hand  and  Jamaica  and  Colon 
on  the  other. 

The  following  extracts  from  letters  from  Mr.  Edward 
Bright  by  way  of  report  to  his  brother  indicate  the  diffi- 
culties to  be  contended  with  : — 



$th  November,    1871. 

.  .  .  We  started  this  afternoon,  but  have  been  absolutely 
stuck  here  by  one  of  the  engineers  (4th)  and  an  assistant  hot 
joining,  added  to  the  loss  of  poor  Stephenson  (2nd)  .  .  .  The 
3rd  engineer  is  drunk.  Mr.  Stoddart  cannot,  of  course,  take 
charge  of  the  engines  with  one  assistant ;  so  we  are  in  a  fix,  and 
shall  probably  lose  a  clear  day  by  Wheeler  being  on  shore.  I 
have  therefore  wired  you  to  send  us  at  once  a  2nd  and  4th 

Hilliard  had  previously  written  Glover's  (by  this  mail)  about 
a  2nd  officer  coming  out.  Arrange  with  Norwood's  and  Glover's. 
We  must  not  let  ourselves  be  stuck  ;  that  would  be  as  bad  as 
the  old  jointer  business.  Tarbutt  is  better  to-day.  .  .  . 


24th  November,  1871. 

.  .  .  Since  I  last  wrote  I  have  no  success  to  report,  as  we  have 
had  bad  weather  nearly  every  day,  with  too  heavy  a  sea  to 

On  the  6th,  we  grappled  from  2  m.  N.  to  10  m.  S.  of  the  buoy, 
with  a  S.W.  drift.  Three  prongs  of  grapnel  injured. 

7th  and  8th. — Grappled  from  18*5  lat.  N.,  75-37  long.  W. 
Took  two  grapnels  up  at  night,  3.30  a.m.  Two  prongs  bent 

on  after  grapnel;  sounded  960  fathoms,  yellow  mud  |      •?    \. 

8th.— Continued  grappling  from  {~Lo|  to  {75-44}  with  one 
large  grapnel.  Prongs  slightly  bent. 

9th.—  From  S.  to  N,  {*7^}>  strain  on at  {75-37}     Pick  up> 
loth. — Sounded  1,340  fms.  shell  sand  |l8    6|,  grapple  from 
l8'  9}.     Stuck  at  {l8i  21.     Picked  up.     Chalk  on  chain  and 

/  u  «3  i  /  0  T~0 



nth.  —  Grappled   from  j1      '\.     Went  a  long  way  to  west- 

/O  OD 

ward  and  picked  up. 

12 th. — Too  rough  to  grapple  or  sound. 

I3th. — Went  into  Port  Morant. 

I4th. — Wind  moderated.     Put  out  in  afternoon. 

i5th. — At  buoy  6.30  a.m.  Go  5  m.  E.  and  4  m.  N.  Broke 
sounding  line  ;  apparently  very  shallow,  about  350  faths.  Tried 
to  grapple,  but  could  not  get  ship  S.,  owing  to  a  westerly  set 

of  two  knots.     Grappled  S.  to  N.  from  ]         ~  I  to  1 

i6th. — Grapnel  down  j1      *  |;  obliged  to  take  it  up.      Heavy 

sea,  and  half  a  gale.  This  state  of  affairs  increasing,  we  went 
into  Port  Morant. 

i8th  and  igth. — Wind  still  on. 

20th. — Steamed  to  Narvasso.  Wind  still  strong.  Heavy  swell. 
Got  lost  buoy  from  there  (previously  got  one  from  Caymaros 
by  schooner),  so  now  three  large  buoys  ready. 

2ist. — Went  to  Kingston.     Strong  wind  and  heavy  sea. 

We  leave  to-day  after  coaling.  I  have  wired  for  more  of 
Massey's  deep-sea  registers.  Only  one  left,  which  had  to  be 

We  have  had  to  invalid  Tarbutt.  Chronic  dysentery  and  liver 
complaint.  He's  very  thin  and  ill.  Do  what  you  can  to  get 
him  fresh  work.  .  .  . 


Once,  when  Captain  Hunter  and  Mr.  Bright  were  stand- 
ing on  the  "  bow  baulks  "  of  the  Dacia,  grappling  for  the 
Puerto  Rico  cable  in  deep  water,  the  grapnel  suddenly 
hitched  on  a  rock  ;  and  before  the  ship  could  be  checked 
a  strain  of  over  twenty  tons  came  on  the  rope,  which 


broke  inboard  close  to  the  dynamometer  with  a  shower  of 
sparks.  The  end  whirled  overboard  bet  ween  them  as  they 
stood  scarce  a  foot  apart,  but  luckily  without  striking 
either  one  or  the  other. 

As  a  further  illustration  of  what  had  to  be  contended 
with,  about  forty  grapnels  were  broken  or  bent  in  the 
recovery  of  this  and  the  Colon  cable,  besides  the  loss  of 
several  grappling  ropes. 

As  soon  as  Sir  Charles'  health  had  sufficiently  recovered, 
he  returned  to  this  scene  of  trouble. 

At  the  moment  when  the  mishap  first  occurred  to  the 
Puerto  Rico- Jamaica  cable,  Sir  Charles  and  his  brother 
made  careful  sketches  of  the  outline  and  appearance  of 
the  Jamaica  mountains  in  the  distance,  so  as  to  give  a 
clue  to  the  bearings  of  the  spot.  This  could  not,  however, 
be  very  accurately  discriminated,  though  some  angles 
were  also  taken.  Had  it  been  the  era  of  the  "  kodak  " 
the  relations  of  the  mountains  and  their  slopes  would  have 
been  so  accurately  defined  as  to  have  materially  assisted 
the  subsequent  search. 

The  broken  Colon- Jamaica  cable  had  now  to  be  taken 
in  hand.  It  was,  unfortunately,  in  very  deep  water. 
Moreover,  considerable  uncertainty  existed  as  to  its  posi- 
tion ;  for  it  will  be  remembered  that  thick  weather  had 
prevented  observations  for  some  time  prior  to  the  mishap, 
while  trying  to  recover  a  fault  in  deep  water  about  320 
miles  from  Colon.  Much  rough  weather  was  again  experi- 


enced,  the  Dacia  being  frequently  driven  for  refuge  to  the 
lee  of  Serrano  and  Roncador  Cays,  or  to  Old  Providence 
Island,  for  days — and  even  weeks — together. 

While  engaged  grappling  for  the  Colon  cable,  the  Dacia 
was  caught  in  a  violent  cyclone,  which  came  on  suddenly  and 
whipped  her  clean  round  in  an  incredibly  short  time — tear- 
ing the  stay-sails  to  ribbons,  clearing  away  the  aft  awning 
(which  there  was  not  time  to  furl),  and  taking  the  port 
quarter  boat  right  out  of  the  davits,  which  were  bent 
into  most  curious  shapes.  However — except  for  pitching 
about  those  on  board  in  a  disagreeable  sort  of  way — no 
actual  harm  was  done. 

In  grappling  it  was  the  custom  to  attach  a  light  chain 
with  a  long  swab  to  the  ring  at  the  back  of  the  grapnel. 
Thus,  what  was  broken  off  the  ground  or  rooted  up  by  the 
prongs  in  front  was  enveloped  by  the  swab  as  it  rolled 
over  and  over,  and  a  good  idea  of  the  nature  of  the  bottom 
was  thereby  obtained.  After  the  weariness  of  eight  or 
ten  hours'  drifting  without  touching  the  cable,  there  was 
always  something  to  look  forward  to  when  the  hour  or  so 
of  winding  up  had  brought  the  grapnel  on  deck.  First  of 
all  the  state  of  the  prongs  was  a  matter  of  interest.  Then 
there  was  its  companion,  the  six-foot  swab,  enveloping  in- 
fusoria, coral,  and  shells  in  its  long  tangles— collecting,  like 
some  octopus,  whatever  the  prongs  had  detached. 

A  number  of  unique  specimens  were  secured  in  this 
way,  including  many  varieties  of  the  lovely  network-like 
lace  of  'Venus'  bouquet-holder,"  or  "flower  basket" 
(euplectella),  with  numerous  net  coral  cups,  besides  black 
coral  and  other  varieties.  The  ooze  consisted,  as  usual, 


of    the    microscopic    skeletons    of    infusoria,    globigerince, 
diatomacce,  etc. 

Apart  from  the  vast  difference  in  the  climates,  fishing 
for  a  cable  in  the  soft  ooze  forming  the  so-called  "  tele- 
graph plateau  "  at  the  bottom  of  the  North  Atlantic  was 
child's  play  to  the  work  entailed  in  recovering  this  line 
between  the  west  end  of  Haiti  and  Holland  Bay,  Jamaica, 
where  the  bottom  is  mostly  volcanic,  and  certainly  one  of 
the  roughest  in  the  world.  The  soundings,  that  had  been 
made  some  five  or  ten  miles  apart,  gave  very  little  idea  of 
the  real  state  of  things  ;  for  between  one  sounding  and  the 
next,  perhaps  half  a  dozen  unknown  declivities  would  be 
found  to  exist — and  there  was  certainly  no  "telegraph 
plateau  "  in  these  parts.1 

Homeward  Bound 

On  leaving  Jamaica,  the  International  proceeded  to  San- 
tiago de  Cuba.  Here  Sir  Charles  and  his  brother  were 
cordially  received  by  Consul  and  Mrs.  Ramsden  ;  and  they 
then  proceeded,  via  Batabano,  to  Havana.  Before  leaving, 
Sir  Charles  gave  a  picnic,  some  of  the  leading  officials 
being  invited.  The  scene  selected  for  the  picnic  was 
a  lovely  plateau  on  a  hill  near  Havana,  shaded  by  the 

1  Bearing  in  mind  that  the  Thomson  steel-wire  sounding 
apparatus  had  not  then  been  introduced,  the  number  of  sound- 
ings taken  compare  favourably  with  what  had  been  done  elsewhere 
at  this  period. 


luxuriant  foliage  of  the  island,  and  commanding  a  beautiful 

Whilst  in  this  neighbourhood,  Charles  Bright  visited 
the  tobacco  plantations  of  Don  Jose  di  Cabarga,  a  well- 
known  manufacturer  of  the  best  Havana  cigars,  who  had 
a  special  brand  named  "  Sir  Charles  Bright  regalias."  x 
Perhaps  the  most  curious  sight  here  was  a  large  enclosure 
with  about  a  dozen  detached  cottages,  given  up  to  those 
slave-wives  anticipating  family  increase.  They  were  given 
no  work  to  do,  were  looked  after  by  a  competent  medical 
man,  and  had  excellent  food  provided  for  them.  Sir 
Charles  and  his  brother  had,  of  course,  to  allow  themselves 
to  be  nominated  as  godfathers,  and  their  names  were  given 
to  a  few  of  the  already  existing  babies. 

After  a  few  days,  the  brothers  took  steamer  to  New 
Orleans.  Thence  they  journeyed  up  the  Mississippi  in  one 
of  the  "  Palace  Steamers."  The  lower  part  of  the  great  river 
was  quite  uninteresting,  mostly  bordered  by  mud  banks, 
into  which  the  steamer  every  now  and  again  had  to  poke  its 
nose  to  receive  bales  of  cotton — and  passengers — and  to  dis- 
charge goods.  The  journey  was  not  very  pleasantly  passed. 
The  national  games  of  "euchre"  and  "poker"  were  being 
played  all  about  the  saloon,  and  all  night  long  ;  and  as 
the  players  did  not  attempt  to  moderate  their  somewhat 
coarse  voices,  a  lively  time  resulted  for  those  in  the  state 

At  various  points,  very  light  railways  with  small  trucks, 

1  After  Sir  Charles'  return  from  the  West  Indies,  "  Don  Jose  " 
made  a  habit  of  sending  him  every  year  a  case  of  these. 


came  down  from  the  plantation  villages — generally  located 
on  rising  ground  at  a  distance,  so  as  to  escape  floods.  It  was 
notified  that  all  passengers  were  expected  to  provide 
themselves  with  clench  nails,  in  order  to  help  to  re-fasten 
the  rails  if  any  got  loose  on  the  trip !  These  light  rail- 
ways were  nicknamed  "  huckleberry "  lines,  because,  as 
hurry  was  unknown,  the  trains  would  pull  up  in  the  ripe 
season  to  let  the  negro  women  get  out  and  pick  the  huckle- 
berries here  and  there. 

Every  one  knows  what  "  skimming  dishes  "  the  creek 
steamers  are,  often  drawing  only  a  few  inches  of  water  ; 
but  the  skipper,  being  "  on  the  burst  "  with  Mississippi 
yarns,  asserted  that  in  one  very  shallow  "  bayou  "  there 
was  a  "  stern- wheeler  "  so  light  that  a  heavy  dew  on  the 
grass  was  enough  for  it  to  pass  over  ! 

Our  travellers  were  glad  to  go  on  by  rail  from  Vicksburg 
in  a  Pullman  car,  though  on  one  of  the  worst-made  lines 
they  had  ever  met  with— a  sort  of  corduroy  road  through 
forests  and  round  spurs  of  mountains.  They  had  happily 
secured  a  special  compartment  at  the  very  tail  of  the  train, 
which  afforded  fine  views.  The  train  oscillated  so  much 
that  the  voyagers  were  soon  literally  rocked  to  sleep  ! 

The  smallest  incident  was  a  relief  from  the  monotony 
of  the  Mississippi.  At  one  point  they  were  roused  by  a 
plaintive  but  subdued  howl  of  "  Hi !  Boss !  Boss  ! !  "  accom- 
panied by  a  faint  odour,  not  unlike  singed  india-rubber. 
On  going  out  to  the  rear  division  where  the  stove  was,  the 
cry  was  found  coming  from  the  large  "grille"  that  sur- 
rounded it.  On  opening  the  lattice  door  a  little  nigger 
boy  tumbled  out  half-grilled  and  fainting  ;  but  a  douche 

B  B 


of  water  revived  him.  He  turned  out  to  be  a  "  stow- 
away "  who  had  crept  in  there  with  the  double  object 
of  warmth  and  concealment  ;  but  as  the  train  went  on, 
the  draught  increased  the  heat,  till  at  last  he  was  forced 
to  cry  out,  being  half-roasted  alive.  It  was  arranged 
with  the  conductor  to  take  the  lad  to  his  destination — and 
without  cooking  him  any  more. 

On  arriving  at  New  York  in  February,  1873,  suitable 
thick  garments  required  to  be  bought  "  ready-made."  Each 
pair  of  trousers  had  a  deep  pocket  behind,  the  explana- 
tion of  its  use  in  these  parts  being  that  it  was  customary 
for  every  man  to  carry  a  bowie  knife. 

The  trip  was  prolonged  into  Canada,  and  the  Niagara 
Falls  were  seen  in  their  extraordinary  winter  mantle  of 
ice  and  snow.  The  Falls  were  passed  under  with  icy 
"  stalactites  "  of  eighty  to  one  hundred  feet  hanging  over 
the  ledge.  It  was  a  great  change  from  the  85°  of  the  West 
Indies,  the  temperature  being  down  to  30°  below  zero,  or 
62°  of  frost. 

After  returning  to  New  York,  Sir  Charles  and  his  brother 
had  an  uncommonly  rough  passage  home  in  the  White 
Star  mail  steamer  Atlantic.  This  happened  to  be  her  final 
voyage  before  being  wrecked. 

And  here  ends  the  story  of  the  West  Indian  cable  expedi- 
tions— the  last  expedition  which  Sir  Charles  accompanied 
or  took  an  active  part  in. 


QHORTLY  after  Sir  Charles  Bright's  final  return  from 
^^  the  West  Indies  in  1873,  the  family  took  up  quarters 
in  a  new  town  house  at  South  Kensington — No.  20,  Bolton 

About  this  time  Sir  Charles  embarked  on  a  book  on 
electrical  and  telegraphic  matters.  It  was,  however, 
set  on  one  side  shortly  after.  Up  to  his  last  days,  he 
expressed  an  intention  of  completing  this  work ;  but, 
like  many  other  busy  men,  he  never  found  an  opportunity 
of  realising  his  hopes,  or,  indeed,  of  doing  much  literary 
work  of  any  sort.  The  fact  is,  though  writing  extremely 
concise  and  clear  reports  and  addresses,  his  characteristic 
ability  lay  more  in  the  direction  of  carrying  out  practical 
work.  He  was  not  one  of  those  engineers  who  have  con- 
tributed largely  to  the  literature  of  their  subjects,  being 
indeed,  a  man  of  actions  rather  than  of  words. 

He  had,  however,  a  more  complete  collection  of  electrical 
literature  than  was  contained  in  any  individual  library. 
Sir  Charles'  library  contained  many  works  not  included  in 
the  famous  collection  of  the  late  Sir  Francis  Ronalds, 
afterwards  presented  to  the  Institution  '  of  Electrical 
Engineers.  Moreover,  he  had  kept  up,  from  the  very 



beginning,  a  collection  of  press-cuttings  referring  to  tele- 
graphy, or  electrical  matters  generally.  This  collection 
has  since  been  continued  by  the  author,  the  twelfth  bulky 
volume  having  now  been  reached.  Probably  no  similar 
collection  can  be  seen  elsewhere. 

Bright  had  only  been  home  a  short  time  when  he  became 
interested  with  Count  d'Oksza — a  prominent  Spanish  gentle- 
man *  to  whom  we  have  already  referred — in  a  project 
for  telegraphically  uniting  Spain  with  her  Canary  Island 
possessions  and  with  extensions  down  the  West  African 
Coast.2  This  eventually  culminated  in  the  formation  of 
the  Spanish  National  Telegraph  Company — promoted  by 
the  Silvertown  Company — with  subsidies  from  the  Spanish 
and  French  Governments,  whose  system  extends  as  far  as 
the  latter's  colony  of  St.  Louis,  in  Senegal.  The  extension 
to  the  Cape  was  afterwards  carried  out,  with  the  help  of 
subsidies  from  the  French,  Portuguese  and  British  Govern- 
ments, on  the  condition  that  the  cable  landed  at  some 
of  their  respective  colonies  en  route.  These  sections  were 
partly  laid  by  the  Silvertown  Company,  and  partly  by 
the  Telegraph  Construction  Company. 

1  Of  Polish  extraction,  his  full  name  was  Count  Thaddeus  Orze- 
chowski  ! 

2  Whilst  in  Spain,   connected  with  the  above  negotiations,   Sir 
Charles  visited   Lisbon — partly  to   see  the   Portuguese  authorities 
concerning  the  proposed  cable  to  Cape  Verde  Isles,  and  partly  with 
regard  to  tramways.     Thus,  in  The  Times  of  May  23,  1873,  we  find 
a  news  telegram  as  follows  : — 

"Lisbon,  May  22.— Sir  Charles  Bright  gave  a  banquet  last  night 
in  honour  of  the  British  Minister,  at  which  many  persons  of  note 
were  present." 


Land  Telegraphs 

Transfer  to  the  State 

A  S  we  have  seen,  the  Telegraph  Act  for  the  settlement 
•*••*•  of  terms  with  the  Companies  was  passed  in  1868. 
In  the  following  year,  the  Telegraph  Purchase  and  Regula- 
tions Act  (for  the  administration  of  Government  service) 
became  law. 

Up  to  this  time  our  Government  was  the  only  one,  be- 
sides that  of  the  United  States,  which  had  not  undertaken 
the  erection  and  control  of  the  country's  system  of  tele- 
graphs. When  the  transfer  took  place  it  was  after  thirty- 
three  years'  working  by  private  enterprise.  During 
this  long  period  those  engaged  in  the  undertaking  had 
provided  the  capital  and  incurred  all  the  risk,  besides 
developing  the  telegraph  system  into  a  highly  lucrative 
business.  Thus,  it  was  but  natural  that  the  Companies 
should  show  no  desire  to  part  with  the  systems  they  had 

The  above-mentioned  Government  Bill  was  brought 
forward  somewhat  suddenly,  and  without  giving  the  Com- 



panics  any  particulars  beforehand.  The  indecent  haste 
with  which  this  matter  was  pressed  may  be  gathered  from 
the  following  extract  from  a  pamphlet  entitled  Government 
the  Telegraphs  (Effingham  Wilson,  1868)  :— 

On  Wednesday,  the  ist  April,  1868,  the  new  Chancellor  of  the  Ex- 
chequer, Mr.  Ward  Hunt,  appeared  at  the  table  of  the  House  of 
Commons  to  move  for  leave  to  introduce  one  of  those  anomalous 
measures  known  in  Parliamentary  phraseology  as  "  hybrid  " 
bills  (i.e.  public  bills  affecting  private  rights),  to  enable  Her 
Majesty's  Postmaster-General  to  acquire,  work,  and  maintain 
Electric  Telegraphs.  .  .  .  Mr.  Ward  Hunt  rose  to  ask  leave  to 
introduce  this  Bill  at  twenty-five  minutes  before  six  o'clock. 
The  House  of  Commons  adjourns  its  Wednesday  discussions  at 
a  quarter  before  six  o'clock.  The  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer 
had,  therefore,  only  ten  minutes  to  develop  "  the  objects  "  of 
the  Bill.  Having  fully  exhausted  those  ten  minutes,  the  Speaker 
intimated  that  the  hour  for  terminating  the  discussion  had 

Mr.  Milner  Gibson  and  Sir  Charles  Bright  rose  to  address  the 
House  ;  but  they  were  too  late  even  to  ask  a  question  or  obtain 
an  answer — much  less  to  raise  any  discussion  on  the  principle 
of  the  measure. 

The  Bill,  as  at  first  framed,  was  very  arbitrary,  and 
practically  looked  like  confiscation  ;  but  in  view  of  the 
strong  opposition  of  the  Companies,  the  Post  Office  authori- 
ties l  came  to  better  terms. 

A  Parliamentary  Committee  was  eventually  appointed 
to  deal  with  the  matter — consisting  of  the  Chancellor  of 
the  Exchequer,  Mr.  Goschen,  and  others  ;  and  this  Com- 
mittee then  proceeded  to  thoroughly  thrash  out  the  con- 

1  The  late  Lord  John  Manners  was  at  that  time  Postmaster- 
General,  Sir  Arthur  Blackwood  being  the  first  Secretary. 


ditions  of  the  bill.  Sir  Charles  was  at  the  time  in  the 
West  Indies,  but  the  Committee  secured  expert  evidence 
from  his  brother  (on  behalf  of  the  "  Magnetic  "  Company), 
as  well  as  from  the  following  witnesses  : — Mr.  F.  I. 
Scudamore,  one  of  the  Secretaries  of  the  Post  Office  ;  Mr. 
Henry  Weaver,  Secretary  to  the  Electric  and  International 
Telegraph  Company  ;  Mr.  R.  S.  Culley,  Engineer  to  the 
"  Electric  "  Company  ;  and  Mr.  Latimer  Clark.  Another 
important  witness  was  Mr.  H.  Foster,  C.B.,  of  the  Treasury 

On  the  Post  Office  authorities  actually  taking  over 
the  lines  in  1870,  they  at  once  established  a  universal 
rate  for  telegrams  throughout  the  United  Kingdom. 
One  of  the  benefits  of  the  change  was  the  rapid  extension 
of  the  system  to  small  towns,  and  even  outlying  villages, 
which  until  then  had  no  telegraph.  This  policy  was,  of 
course,  forced  upon  the  Government.  They  could  not, 
like  the  Companies,  consider  whether  a  station  at  any 
given  place  would  "  pay  "  or  not.  Partly  as  a  result  of 
this,  the  State,  unlike  the  Companies,  works  the  telegraphs 
at  a  loss  in  this  country — although  the  amount  of  this  loss 
is  a  diminishing  quantity  each  year. 


Railway  and  Government  Arbitration 

On  returning  from  their  arduous  and  exhausting  work 
in  the  West  Indian  tropics,  Sir  Charles  and  his  brother 
were  in  immediate  request  by  the  Railway  Companies, 
who  were  engaged  in  important  arbitrations  with  the 
Post  Office  authorities  as  to  the  value  of  their  interest 
in  the  Telegraphs,  on  account  of  the  purchase  and  transfer 
to  Government  of  the  Telegraph  Companies'  system  just 
referred  to. 

The  Railways  were  concerned  in  a  variety  of  ways.  In 
some  instances  the  Telegraph  Companies  paid  considerable 
sums  to  certain  Railways  for  mere  way-leave.  For  ex- 
ample, the  South-Eastern  used  to  receive  nearly  £2,000  a 
year  under  this  head  from  the  Magnetic  Company  alone, 
besides  dividing  the  message  receipts  when  collected  at, 
or  delivered  from,  the  railway  stations.  In  other  cases 
the  Railways  had  their  telegraphing  and  signalling  per- 
formed by  the  Telegraph  Companies  ;  and,  again,  in 
others,  the  Railway  Company  had  the  use  of  the  telegraph 
as  a  set-off  against  the  way-leave.  The  railways,  of  course, 
offered  a  better  protected  route  for  the  wires  than  the 
highways,  and  were  free  from  the  chance  of  injury  by 
falling  trees  in  storms.  The  value  of  this  beneficial  in- 
terest may  be  gathered  from  the  fact  that  while  the  Tele- 
graph Companies  obtained  £5,847,347  for  the  whole  of 
their  lines,  stations,  and  plant,  the  Railways  received 
for  their  interest  in  the  message  business  and  way-leaves 


Mr.  R.  Price-Williams,  C.E.,  the  eminent  railway  cal- 
culator, had  very  ably  worked  out  the  figures  for  the  Rail- 
ways ;  and — conjointly  with  Mr.  Latimer  Clark,  as  the 
former  Engineer  of  the  "  Electric  "  Company — Sir  Charles 
and  Edward  Bright  put  together  the  sort  of  evidence  that 
was  needed.  For  some  years  the  brothers  were  more  or 
less  engaged  in  attending  as  witnesses  in  the  many  necessarily 
lengthy  arbitration  cases.  In  the  above  arbitrations  the 
Right  Hon.  J.  Stuart-Wortley,  M.P.,  was  umpire,  with 
Mr.  F.  J.  Bramwell,  C.E.,1  and  Mr.  Henry  Weaver  as 
arbitrators.  These  railway  assessment  cases  were  admir- 
ably conducted  by  Mr.  Samuel  Pope,  Q.C.,  the  famous 
railway  advocate,  while  Mr.  R.  E.  Webster2  led  on  the 
other  side. 

During  the  various  arbitrations,  patent  cases,  and  law- 
suits generally,  in  which  Sir  Charles  was  engaged  from 
time  to  time,  he  used — even  when  vitally  concerned — to 
vary  the  proceedings  by  taking  sketches  in  court,  which 
afforded  some  amusement. 

1  Afterwards  Sir  Frederick  Bramwell,  Bart.,  D.C.L.,  F.R.S. 

2  Now  Lord  Alverstone,  G.C.M.G.,  Lord  Chief  Justice  of  England- 



A  T  several  periods  of  his  life  Sir  Charles  had  shown  a 
-^^  predilection  for  mining.  It  attracted  him  from 
the  scientific,  as  well  as  the  adventurous  point  of  view- 
combining  as  it  did  chemistry,  geology,  and  mechanics. 

Thus,  in  1861,  he  and  his  brother  had  taken  up  the  ex- 
ploitation of  a  mine  in  the  Valgodemard  Dauphine  of  the 
south  of  France.  This  contained  veins  of  grey  copper, 
i.e.  copper  ore  carrying  silver.  The  mine  was  worked  by 
the  Brights  from  1862  to  1865,  but  eventually  the  mineral 
proved  too  refractory  for  profitable  working.  It  had  been 
originally  brought  to  the  notice  of  Sir  Charles  by  Mr.  E.  B. 
Webb,  C.E.  This  was  Bright's  first  professional  connec- 
tion with  Mr.  Webb,  but  for  many  years — up  to  the  time 
of  the  latter's  death — a  firm  friendship  existed  between 

The  valley  in  which  the  Valgodemard  mine  was  situated 
was  exceedingly  beautiful.  During  the  working  of  the 
mine  a  claim  of  40  francs  was  made  for  a  very  young 
walnut  tree — a  mere  sapling — which  had  to  be  removed 
in  making  a  watercourse.  On  it  being  pointed  out  that 
the  sapling  was  not  worth  even  a  franc,  the  owner  replied : 


MINING  379 

'  That  may  be  so  now,  but  it  would  have  grown  into  a 
fine  tree  !  "  This  novel  form  of  argument  did  not,  how- 
ever, prevail  with  the  small  local  tribunal  at  Roux,  which 
awarded  the  greedy  old  man — much  to  his  chagrin- 
just  the  franc  deposited  by  the  Valgodemard  Company. 

Sir  Charles'  next  mining  interest  was  that  of  the  New 
Mansfield  Company.  This  was  formed  about  1864  to 
work  some  extensive  alluvial  deposits  of  low-grade  copper 
ore,  near  Klausthal,  in  the  Hartz  Mountains.  Mr.  Webb 
was  again  a  partner  in  this  venture  with  the  Brights. 
When  Sir  Charles  first  visited  the  New  Mansfield  mine 
he  was  very  warmly  received  by  Professor  Bruno  Kerl 
(of  the  great  German  College  near  by)  and  other  important 
persons,  who  pressed  him  so  much  with  "  chopins  "  of 
strong  beer  that  he  began  to  think  they  had  designs  upon 
his  head  ! l  On  a  couple  of  the  professors  paying  a  return 
visit,  they  indulged  freely  in  some  port  at  the  works,  and 
became  so  much  affected  that  when  they  wanted  to  go 
back  to  Klausthal  at  night  Sir  Charles  thought  it  better 
to  have  them  driven  twice  round  the  mining  district,  and 
then  to  bed  at  New  Mansfield.  Here,  to  their  great  aston- 
ishment, they  awoke  next  morning. 

Then  came  the  Croscombe  lead  mines,  in  Somersetshire. 
These  proved  a  heavy  loss  to  Sir  Charles.  He  was  chair- 
man of  the  company — an  unlimited  one — formed  about 

1  Bright  had  been  warned  by  his  mining  associates  that  the  good 
folks  of  Klausthal  had  a  reputation  for  plying  their  English  visitors 
with  more  than  enough  of  their  somewhat  "  heady  "  beer  ! 


1865.  The  failure  occurred  during  1867,  whilst  he  was 
busily  engaged  with  House  of  Commons  committees.  Sir 
Hussey  Vivian,  M.P.,1  was  also  on  the  board  of  directors, 
but  the  brunt  of  the  loss  fell  on  Sir  Charles. 

Soon,  however,  Bright  was  destined  to  have  a  still  closer 
and  more  definite  connection  with  mines  and  mining. 

About  the  year  1868  he  foresaw  that,  as  the  engineering 
and  electrical  science  with  telegraphy  was  becoming  better 
understood  with  each  new  undertaking,  professional  services 
would  gradually  become  less  valuable  and  less  sought 
after.  Then,  too,  the  manufacturing  firms — since  becoming 
limited  liability  companies — had  acquired  a  staff  which 
rendered  them  capable  of  contracting  for  the  submersion, 
as  well  as  for  the  construction,  of  cables.  This  being  so, 
Bright  determined  that  he  must  cast  his  net  wider  in  the 
profession  of  civil  engineering.  Thus,  a  little  later,  he  em- 
barked on  more  general  and  independent  consulting  practice, 
to  which  larger  profits  were  attached.  In  this,  his  brother, 
Edward,  was  associated  with  him. 

1  Sir  Hussey  Vivian  (subsequently  first  Lord  Swansea)  was  an 
old  friend  of  Sir  Charles'  ;  and  when  his  big  chemical  and  smelting 
works  at  Swansea  and  Birmingham  were  being  converted  into  a 
company  in  1883,  Bright  took  up  a  considerable  interest  therein. 

MINING  381 

The  Servian  Mines 

In  the  middle  of  1873  the  advantages  of  the  mining 
domain  of  Kucaina,  in  Servia,  were  brought  before  Sir 
Charles  and  his  brother  by  Mr.  J.  E.  Tenison  Woods,  who 
had  formerly — on  behalf  of  the  Daily  News — been  with 
Bright  on  H.M.S.  Agamemnon  during  the  laying  of  the  first 
Atlantic  cable,  and  was  subsequently  one  of  his  assistants 
in  carrying  out  the  first  telegraph  to  India,  via  the  Persian 
Gulf.  He  had  been  recently  engaged  near  Kucaina,  at 
Tischivitscha  on  the  Danube — a  place  that  can  only  be 
pronounced  by  a  sound  resembling  that  of  sneezing. 

Kucaina  was  interesting,  not  only  from  the  richness  of 
the  lead  ore — which  held  a  considerable  amount  both  of 
gold  and  silver — but  in  its  ancient  history.  It  had 
been  largely  worked  by  the  Romans,  who  had  left  the 
remains  of  a  castle  partly  built  with  large  stones  of  calamine 
ore,  containing  some  silver,  which  was  taken  out  and 
smelted.  The  Romans  had,  seemingly,  also  had  hot-air 
baths,  or  calidaria,  here.  These  were  excavated  by  the 
Brights,  when  some  grassy  mounds  were  being  dug 
into  for  foundations  for  mining  buildings.  They  were 
found  with  the  wood  ashes  and  soot  in  the  flues  under 
the  stone  benches,  just  as  fresh  as  when  this  mining  settle- 
ment was  broken  up  after  Trajan's  time.  In  another 
neighbouring  spot  were  the  remains  of  a  mediaeval  Vene- 
tian church  with  the  peculiar  apse.  Underneath  this  an 
ancient  smelting  floor  was  found,  with  a  quantity  of  silver 
in  the  interstices.  The  formation  was  friable  porphyry, 


in  conjunction  with  indurated  limestone,  in  which  the 
ore  was  found.  There  were  many  thousands  of  ancient 
shafts  distributed  over  miles  of  surface  ;  but  the  Romans, 
Venetians,  and,  later  on,  the  Austrians,  had  been  beaten 
by  the  water  at  a  comparatively  small  depth  below  the 
valley  level — although  there  were  many  remnants  of  ancient 
buckets  and  other  contrivances,  with  the  usual  earthen- 
ware mining  lamps,  etc.  From  the  archives  at  Belgrade 
it  is  clear  that  the  Venetians  in  the  i6th  century  had  paid 
the  ancient  kings  of  Servia  no  less  a  tribute  than  500,000 
ducats  a  year  (a  ducat  being  equivalent  to  gs.  6d.  of  our 
money  now,  but  worth  many  times  more  then)  for  the 
privilege  of  exploiting  this  and  several  other  mineral 
districts.  The  vast  heaps  of  slag  from  their  smelting 
furnaces  all  over  the  Kucaina  and  other  mining  regions 
show  that  the  ancients  went  vigorously  to  work. 

After  careful  examination  of  the  district  and  tests  of 
the  ore  by  Messrs.  Johnson  and  Matthey,  Sir  Charles  and 
his  brother  decided  to  take  up  these  mines.  A  little  later 
they  sent  out  pumps,  steam-engines  and  compressed  air 
borers,  together  with  several  experienced  Cornish  miners. 

Various  arrangements  had  to  be  made  with  the  Servian 
Government  relating  to  the  mining  rights,  royalties, 
and  other  privileges,  which  were  conducted  with  the  Finance 
Minister,  M.  Chedomille  Mijatovich,  who  showed  every 
consideration  and  kindness  to  Sir  Charles  and  Edward 
Bright.  The  brothers  subsequently  made  a  holiday  stay 
with  M.  Mijatovich. 

In  their  frequent  business  at  Belgrade  they  also  visited 

MINING  383 

Prince  Milan  (subsequently  the  King)  at  his  Konak,  or 
palace.  On  the  occasion  of  Sir  Charles'  first  trip  to  Servia 
he  was  accompanied  by  his  eldest  son,  John  Brails  ford, 
shortly  after  the  latter  had  left  Winchester.1 

Messrs.  Bright  arranged  with  Mr.  Felix  Hoffmann  (the 
former  owner)  who  knew  the  district  thoroughly,  to  carry 
on  the  work  for  a  time  under  their  supervision.  He  was 
an  able  mining  engineer,  though  not  much  acquainted 
with  modern  English  or  American  machinery.  The  influx 
of  water  that  had  baffled  him — in  a  shaft  sunk  some  forty 
fathoms  by  a  small  Austrian  syndicate — was  at  once  dealt 
with  by  the  new  pumps. 

The  ore  thus  produced  was  very  rich,  yielding — with 
50  to  80  per  cent,  of  lead — from  one  to  four  ounces  of  gold, 
and  20  to  100  ounces  of  silver  to  the  ton  of  rough  stuff. 
This  was  dried  in  a  reverberatory  furnace  sufficiently 
to  drive  off  the  moisture  and  a  small  part  of  the  sulphur, 
and  then  shipped  across  the  Danube  from  Gradishtie 
to  Bazias  in  Hungary.  Then  the  railway  took  it  to  the 
Royal  Saxon  Smelting  Works  at  Freiberg,  near  Dresden, 
where  it  "  fetched  "  from  £20  to  £30  per  ton.  A  con- 
signment was  sent  to  Vivian's  at  Swansea,  but  the  returns 
were  not  as  good  as  those  of  Freiberg,  where  they  ap- 
peared to  understand  better  the  treatment  of  this  peculiar 

During  1874  and  1875 — on  the  strength  of  good  results- 
Sir  Charles  and  Edward  extended  the  works,  building 
large  stores.  They  also  erected  good  stone  and  brick 

1  On  his  return,  this  son  went  to  Balliol  College,  Oxford  ;  and 
after  taking  his  degree,  was  called  to  the  Bar  (Inner  Temple). 


houses— in  fact,  a  regular  little  colony — for  the  accommoda- 
tion of  the  officers  and  miners,  about  200  of  whom  were 
allowed  by  the  Austrian  Government  to  come  to  the  colony 
across  the  Danube,  with  their  families.  Mr.  J.  E.  T.  Woods 
—and  subsequently  Captain  J.E.  Hunter,  R.N.,  who  had 
previously  co-operated  with  the  brothers  in  their  West 
Indian  cable  work — assisted  in  the  management.  Others 
of  the  staff  took  part  in  this  mining  undertaking  and  in 
the  analysis  of  the  ore  from  the  various  workings — notably 
Mr.  Leslie  Hill  and  Mr.  Percy  Tarbutt,  afterwards  a  mining 
engineer  of  eminence  and  a  director  of  several  African 
and  Australian  mining  companies. 

The  two  brothers  were  greatly  pleased  with  the  country, 
and  also  enjoyed  their  work  ;  they  made  yearly  a  couple 
of  stays  of  three  months  each,  during  which  they  superin- 
tended the  mining  operations,  both  above  and  below  ground. 
When  special  supervision  was  not  needed  at  the  works 
there  was  no  difficulty  in  passing  away  the  time.  There 
were  generally  some  friends  out  on  a  visit,  including 
Sir  Charles'  brother-in-law,  Mr.  Robert  John  Taylor,  as 
well  as  Mr.  E.  B.  Webb  and  Mr.  H.  Meissner  and  others,  to 
form  riding  parties  to  explore  the  forests,  and,  sometimes, 
to  hunt  and  shoot. 

The  domain  comprised  about  eight  square  miles  ;  while 
the  seignorial  and  timber-cutting  rights  extended  over 
sixty  square  miles— nearly  all  of  virgin  forest.  This  formed 
the  commencement  of  an  enormous  tract  stretching  for 
nigh  upon  a  thousand  miles  through  Servia  and  Bulgaria 
towards  the  south-west  along  the  range  of  the  Balkan 
Mountains,  as  far  as  the  Black  Sea.  The  principal  tenants 

MINING  385 

were  wolves,  deer,  and  wild  boar,  besides  the  hazel  huhn, 
quail,  and  very  big  hares. 

During  his  various  stays  in  Servia,  Sir  Charles  wrote  a 
number  of  letters  home,  to  his  wife  and  others.  Although 
mostly  of  a  domestic  nature,  the  following  serves  to  describe 
an  experience  of  some  interest  :— 


July  igth,   1875. 

...  I  have  a  chance  of  writing  to-day  by  a  wagon,  so  I  send 
you  this  little  note.  .  .  . 

Yesterday  I  went  to  a  place  outside  our  land — about  two  and 
a  half  hours'  ride — where  the  Archbishop  was  consecrating  a 
new  church.  His  chaplain  had  been  here  paying  a  visit  with 
three  other  priests,  and  asked  us  to  come. 

The  Archbishop  was  in  church  when  we  arrived,  and  the  cere- 
mony was  half  over,  as  we  were  a  little  late  in  starting.  After- 
wards he  sent  his  chaplain  to  invite  us  to  see  him,  and  received 
me  most  graciously — as  though  he  had  known  me  for  years. 
He  is  a  very  quiet-spoken,  gentle,  sort  of  man,  and  evidently 
a  most  amiable  person. 

He  received  us  (Hunter  and  me)  in  a  sort  of  bower,  made  up 
for  the  occasion  of  wooden  poles  set  in  the  ground,  with  branches 
of  leafy  trees  twisted  all  round  so  as  to  make  an  arbour  of  about 
twelve  feet  square.  Sweetmeats  were  brought  in,  according  to 
custom,  and  we  conversed,  through  our  interpreter,  for  about 
twenty  minutes,  about  all  kinds  of  things.  .  .  . 

He  then  asked  us  to  take  breakfast  with  him  ;  so,  afterwards 
—breakfast  being  here  about  noon — we  went  to  a  long  table 
(also  in  the  church  grounds)  covered  with  a  similar  kind  of  arbour 
or  foliage,  erected  just  for  the  time.  There  at  the  upper  end  of 
the  table  sat  the  Archbishop  ;  I  was  on  his  right,  and  Hunter 
sat  next  to  me.  The  Natchalih,  or  principal  civil  officer  of  the 
district,  was  on  his  left,  and  about  a  dozen  priests,  or  "  popas," 

c  c 


on  each  side.  Then  below  were  all  the  chief  villagers — that  is 
to  say,  the  oldest  men,  or  communal  heads.  The  table  (made 
of  planks  on  trestles)  was  about  100  feet  long,  so  you  may  imagine 
there  were  a  great  number  present.  We  had  some  curious  soup, 
and  other  food,  in  the  course  of  which  the  Archbishop  drank  his 
first  glass  to  me,  and  I  to  him,  according  to  the  Serbish  custom. 
What  do  you  think  the  glass  contained  ? — beer  !  Afterwards 
various  toasts  were  drunk.  One  to  the  Prince  was  proposed 
very  quietly  by  the  Archbishop.  The  latter  then  retired,  and 
a  few  minutes  later  sent  a  fine  melon  to  me  as  a  present. 

On  taking  leave  he  was  most  cordial,  and  begged  that  I  should 
never  be  in  Belgrade  without  coming  to  see  him.  He,  on  his 
part,  promised  to  visit  me  at  Kucaina. 

At  the  ceremony  the  robes  were  very  gorgeous.  The  Arch- 
bishop wore  a  crown  of  some  pearl  and  Silver-like  stuff — probably 
pearls  strung  on  silver  wire — with  silver  lace  embroidery,  and  a 
splendid —  -  I  don't  know  what  to  call  it ;  I  know  it  can't  be 
right  to  call  it  a  cloak,  though  it  was  something  of  that  sort. 

After  the  ceremony  all  the  people  walked  by  and  kissed  a 
cross  which  he  held  in  his  left  hand.  •  Then  they  kissed  his  right 
hand,  in  which  he  had  a  little  bunch  of  flowers,  with  which  he 
gave  them  a  little  pat  on  the  forehead,  by  way  of  blessing.  .  .  . 

But  the  profits,  as  well  as  the  pleasures,  of  Kucaina 
were  not  to  last.  Towards  the  end  of  1876,  of  all  uncon- 
scionable things  that  could  happen,  the  little  State  of 
Servia — with  a  certain  incomprehensible  self-confidence 
—declared  war  against  the  Turks  !  It  suffices  to  say 
that  the  result  was  disastrous  to  the  mines  ;  for  Austria, 
objecting  to  the  war,  had  called  back  all  the  Hungarian 
miners,  who  were  mostly  in  their  Frontier  Guard,  or 
"  Landwehr."  At  the  same  time,  both  Austria  and  Turkey 
—whose  territories  entirely  surrounded  Servia — prohibited 
the  export  of  dynamite  or  gunpowder.  As  the  former  was 

MINING  387 

an  essential  for  dealing  with  the  hard  limestone,  and  could 
not  be  made  in  the  country,  work  was  practically  stopped 
for  lack  of  men  and  explosives. 

Sir  Charles  and  his  brother  kept  operations  going  for 
some  years  after  ;  but  it  was  such  a  costly  and  trouble- 
some process  that  the  mines  had  eventually  to  be  given  up. 


The   Fire   Alarm 

Electron  sits,  a  sentinel  alway— 

To  watch  the  fire  fiend  in  his  stealthy  start, 

And  then  to  stir  the  town  with  clamours  at  its  heart  ! 

IN    the   course   of  the   year  1878,  the  brothers   brought 
out  a  system  of  fire  alarms 1  based  upon  their  method 
of  ascertaining  the  locality  of  faults  in  telegraph  conduc- 
tors, which  they  had  patented  as  far  back  as  1852,  and  which 
has  already  been  referred  to. 

The  advantage  of  a  prompt  warning  as  soon  as  a  fire 
begins  scarcely  needs  urging.  A  Committee  of  the  House 
of  Commons  had  recently  reported  on  the  Metropolitan 
Fire  Brigade.  This  report  stated  that  the  first  duty  of  a 
police  constable  on  the  breaking  out  of  a  fire  was  to  give  the 
alarm  to  those  about  ;  and,  if  the  fire  was  in  a  house,  to 
arouse  the  inmates.  Some  time  would  thus  be  lost — more  in 
running  to  the  nearest  station — and,  as  has  been  justly  said, 
the  very  period  in  which  the  fire  could  be  nipped  in  the  bud 
is  lost  in  these  preliminary  arrangements.  Indeed,  the 
first  five  minutes  at  a  fire  is  worth  (in  the  opinion  of  the  chiefs 

1  See  Patent  Specification  No.  3,801,  of  1878. 


of  the  Fire  Brigade)  the  next  five  hours.  It  remains  only 
to  remark  that  the  "  prompt  warning  "  advocated  above 
is  best  secured  electrically. 

In  the  United  States,   and  many  countries  of  Europe, 
fire  alarm  call-posts  were  already  an    accomplished  fact, 
but  over  here  scarcely  any- 
thing had  been  done  in  this.  ^ 
direction.      A  few  call-posts 
on    the    American     system, 
with  clockwork  as  the  lead- 
ing characteristic,  had  only                          T"TT ' 
been  introduced  tentatively. 
Such    apparatus     not    only 
costs  a  good  deal,  but  was, 
from  its    very  nature,  sub- 
ject to  get  out    of   order  - 
from   rust,    wear    and   tear, 
and  other  causes. 

By  the  Bright  system, 
thorough  simplicity  and  re- 
liability were  obtained,  com- 
bined with  low  initial  cost. 
The  locality  of  the  fire— or, 
rather,  of  the  call  -  post  FIRE  ALARM  POST 

from    which    the    summons 

to  the  engine  is  given  —  is  indicated  by  a  few  yards  of 
wire  in  the  post,  or  call-box.  Each  coil  of  wire  has  a 
definite  electrical  resistance,  peculiar  to  itself,  which  is  intro- 
duced into  the  line  circuit  by  merely  pulling  out  the  "  short 
circuiting  "  handle.  This  disturbs  a  balance  of  resistance 


at  the  central  (fire)  station  and  rings  a  bell.  The  fireman 
on  watch  then  turns  a  handle,  which  inserts  resistances  in  the 
circuits  corresponding  to  those  in  the  posts.  Thus,  when 
the  bell  stops  ringing,  the  handle  points  to  the  place  whence 
the  alarm  proceeded,  the  particular  coil  (i.e.  call-post) 
being  thus  indicated  at  the  Fire  Brigade  station — and  this 
without  clockwork  or  anything  that  can  suffer  from  exposure 
to  air  or  moisture  in  the  posts. 

After  showing  working  models  to  Captain  Shaw,1  the 
Chief  of  the  Brigade,  and  also  to  the  Metropolitan  Board 
of  Works,  this  simple  but  effective  system  was  largely 
adopted  in  and  around  London. 

As  it  was  deemed  desirable  that  an  acknowledgment  should 
be  given  from  the  brigade  station  to  the  person  effecting 
the  call,  the  resistance  wire  was  coiled  upon  an  iron  core, 
and  thus  converted  into  an  electro-magnet  in  close  proximity 
to  an  armature.  To  the  end  of  the  latter  was  fitted  a  light 
red  disc,  which  showed  itself  at  a  hole  in  the  call  box,  when 
the  current  passed.  The  acknowledgment  is  then  made 
from  the  engine  station  by  breaking  and  making  the  circuit 
with  an  ordinary  key,  thus  occasioning  the  disc  at  the  alarm 
post  to  wave  to  and  fro. 

As  a  proof  of  the  great  advantage  of  such  street  calls,  no 
less  than  fifty  calls  were  given  to  fires  in  ten  months  on  the 
first  fifteen  call  points  put  up  in  the  City  and  in  South- 
wark.  After  this,  the  system  was  rapidly  extended  to 
twenty  circuits  in  London,  comprising  nearly  ninety  miles 
of  line  and  one  hundred  and  forty  call  points. 

1  Afterwards  Sir  Eyre  Massey  Shaw,  K.C.B. 



A  further  extension  of  the  principle  by  another  patent l 
was  then  introduced  by  the  brothers.  This  applied  it 
to  giving  automatic  notice  of  fire  starting  in  buildings  by 
contact  being  made  to  connect  up  the  apparatus  and  ring 
a  bell,  or  bells,  upon  undue  heat  arising  in  any  room.2  It 
was  introduced  throughout  the  South  Kensington  Museum 
and  in  several  other  important  buildings. 

There  are  various  contrivances  by  which  an  undue  or 


abnormal  increase  of  temperature  in  a  room  may  be  made  to 
give  an  alarm  by  electricity — such  as.,  the  rising  of  mercury 
in  a  tube,  or  the  melting  of  easily  fusible  metals  ;  but  the 
brothers  determined  that  the  cheapest  and  most  convenient 
was  a  small  bi-metallic  spring.  By  making  it  of  brass  on 
one  side,  and  steel,  or  platinum,  on  the  other,  it  was  shown 
that  the  difference  of  expansion  of  the  metals  causes  the 
spring  to  move  until  it  comes  into  contact  with  a  screw 
terminal,  which  can  be  adjusted  to  the  desired  temperature. 

1  Specification  No.  596,  of  1878. 

1  This  apparatus  was  especially  intended  for  out-of-the-way 
(unvisited)  warehouses — particularly  corn  mills.  It  can  be  adjusted 
so  as  to  give  the  alarm  at  any  predetermined  temperature. 

THE   FIRE   ALARM  393 

As  the  heat  detectors  may  be  set  to  give  warning  at  any 
temperature  exceeding  that  of  the  normal  state  of  the  air  in 
a  building,  they  can  be  employed  to  indicate  the  commence- 
ment of  any  heating  in  heaps  of  corn,  jute,  etc. — either  when 
on  board  ship  or  stored  in  warehouses — thus  calling  atten- 
tion before  actual  harm  is  done,  or  spontaneous  combustion 
sets  in. 

In  the  same  way  the  heating  of  coal  on  board  ship  can  be 
at  once  detected,  either  in  holds  or  bunkers.  As  we  all 
know,  this  is  a  prolific  cause  of  fire  at  sea  ;  and  it  was,  then, 
in  this  direction,  partly,  that  the  above  automatic  fire  alarm 
was  intended  to  come  to  the  rescue. 

Where  the  system  was  to  be  used  as  a  self-acting  alarm  in 
buildings  or  ships,  a  "  localiser  "  was  placed  in  combination 
with  mere  "  detectors."  The  object  of  the  "  localiser  "  is 
to  make  known  the  particular  part  of  the  building  (or  ship) 
affected.  The  "  heat  detector  "  is  set  to  a  given  tempera- 
ture— say  110°  Fah. — and  immediately  that  temperature 
is  exceeded  in  any  portion,  contact  is  made  automatically, 
and  the  alarm  given  by  a  loud  (electric)  bell,  or  gong,  placed 
in  the  most  effective  position. 

From  the  foregoing,  it  will  be  seen  that  the  invention  had 
a  number  of  other  practical  applications  where  a  specified 
temperature  requires  to  be  maintained. 

When  exhibited  later,  at  the  International  Electrical 
Exhibition  at  Paris,  in  1881,  the  Bright  Fire  Alarms  gained 
the  only  gold  medal  awarded  to  such  apparatus ;  and  the 
distinction  of  a  gold  medal  was  also  awarded  to  the  system 
at  the  English  (Crystal  Palace)  Exhibition  in  1882. 

The  invention  was  extensively  brought  forward  by  papers 


and  lectures  in  London,  Liverpool,  Manchester,  Leeds, 
Bradford,  and  Hull ;  but,  for  some  time,  the  public  gener- 
ally showed  much  apathy  about  these  life  and  property  saving 
appliances,  forget /ul  of  Shakespeare's  proverb  :— 

A  little  fire  is  quickly  trodden  out ; 
Which  being  suffered,  rivers  cannot  quench. 

As  for  the  Insurance  Companies,  although  they  received 
premiums  in  the  United  Kingdom  of  more  than  twelve  mil- 
lions per  annum — of  which,  on  the  average,  they  repay  for 
losses  by  fire  about  50  per  cent.,  or  six  millions1 — their 
United  Tariff  Committee  persistently  declined  to  make  any 
concession  in  rates  in  connection  with  these  self-acting  fire 
alarms.  This  though  they  afford  the  means  of  bringing 
hydrants  and  extincteurs  to  bear  on  a  fire  at  the  outset— 
when  they  may  be  used  with  some  effect  !  2 

As  a  reason  for  turning  a  deaf  ear  to  the  alarm,  a  certain 
manager  (of  one  of  the  largest  Insurance  Societies)  frankly 
said  that  the  general  use  of  such  appliances  might  militate 
against  their  business,  inasmuch  as  they  found  that  a  large 
fire  now  and  then  actually  benefited  them— bringing  a  shoal 
of  new  insurers  ! 

An  interesting  episode  occurred  when  the  first  patent 
was  taken  out  in  1878.  Those  days  being  before  the  appoint- 
ment of  a  special  "  Controller,"  the  application  was  referred 
to  the  law  officers  of  the  Crown,  and  this  came  before  the 

1  Insurance  Cyclopedia. 

2  Yet  the  companies  make  considerable  reductions  where  hydrants, 
extincteurs,  and  water  buckets  are  kept  on  the  premises   insured. 


then  Attorney-General,  the  genial  Sir  Hardinge  Giffard,  Q.C. 
—now  Lord  Halsbury.  His  patent  expert  did  not  see  how 
the  system  of  resistances  could  be  worked  or  made  the  sub- 
ject of  a  patent,  nor  could  Sir  Hardinge,  after  a  personal- 
explanation  at  his  Chambers  in  the  Temple.  He  was,  how- 
ever, considerate  enough  to  come  to  the  habitat  at  Golden 
Square,1  where  Sir  Charles  and  his  brother  showed  him  work- 
ing models,  which  he  tested  himself.  The  result  was  that 
he  became  perfectly  satisfied,  and  at  once  gave  his  fiat  for 
the  patent. 

A  little  later,  Mr.  Edward  Bright  read  a  paper  at  the 
Society  of  Telegraph  Engineers  and  Electricians  with  re- 
ference to  the  fire  alarm  in  all  its  aspects.2  During  the 
course  of  the  discussion  which  followed,  one  of  the  speakers 
alluded  to  an  American  invention  which  reminded  Sir  Charles 
of  another,  which  he  humorously  referred  to  as  follows  :— 

I  have  in  recollection  a  burglar  alarm  which  I  believe  hailed 
from  the  same  quarter.  It  was  a  system  which,  in  ingenuity  and 
ambition,  could  hardly  be  surpassed.  By  an  electrical  arrange- 
ment embodied  in  this  invention,  when  the  burglar  stood  in 
position  to  open  the  safe,  a  trap  door  under  his  feet  opened  and 
precipitated  him  into  a  cell  below,  where  he  would  be  safe  till 
morning,  when  an  indicator  would  show  that  the  trap  door  had 
been  in  action  !  The  only  defect  in  the  arrangement  seemed  to 

1  This  large  corner  house  (No.  31),  occupied  as  offices  and  experi- 
mental rooms  by  the  brothers,  was  said  to  be  that  referred  to  by 
Dickens  as  Ralph  Nickleby's. 

2  "Electric    Fire     Alarms."      By     E.    B.     Bright,    M.Inst.C.E., 
Member  of  Council  (Journ,  Soc.  Tel.  Eng.,  vol.  xiii). 


be  the  absence  of  an  automatic  handcuffing  arrangement  when 
the  burglar  was  trapped. 

The  Bright  Fire  Alarm  in  all  its  varieties — as  now  fitted 
up  throughout  London  and  other  towns — was  described  in  the 
newspapers  and  technical  journals  at  the  time  ;  and  the 
Graphic,  of  September  6th,  1880,  contained  a  fully  illustrated 
article  thereon. 



"\  T  riTH  the  advent  of  the  telephone  there  commenced  a 
new  epoch  in  the  progress  of  electrical  communi- 
cation, and  ever  since  Professor  Graham  Bell  exhibited,  in 
1876,  his  original"  speaking  telegraph  "  at  the  Philadelphia 
Exhibition,  Bright  took  up  the  subject  warmly. 

A  year  later,  Professor  D.E.Hughes  invented  the  micro- 
phone— perhaps  the  best  transmitter  in  conjunction  with 
the  Bell  receiver.  Sir  Charles  had  first  observed  (as  early 
as  1852)  that  pressure  altered  the  resistance  of  a  mercury 
contact — a  fact  which  has  some  historical  interest  in  con- 
nection with  the  theory  of  the  microphone.  The  carbon 
transmitter  invented  by  Edison,  about  the  same  time,  also 
helped  to  render  the  telephone  a  practical  success.  A  number 
of  other  transmitters  and  receivers  followed,  some  of  which 
Sir  Charles  experimented  with  and  reported  on. 

Various  companies  were  soon  promoted  in  the  United 
Kingdom  for  establishing  Telephony  throughout  towns. 
In  1880  the  United  Kingdom  Telephone  Company  *  was 
incorporated  in  England  for  purposes  of  telephone  exploita- 

1  Now,  by  amalgamation,  the  National  Telephone  Company, 
which  eventually  absorbed  all  the  other  telephone  working  concerns 
in  this  country. 



tion,  since  which  most  of  our  large  cities  have  been  connected 
by  trunk  telephone  lines.  Central  exchanges  for  intercom- 
munication by  word  of  mouth  have  been  established  in  all 
the  larger  towns,  and  the  telephone  is  now  in  constant  use 
in  almost  every  office,  as  well  as  in  a  large  proportion  of  the 
private  houses  throughout  towns. 

Another  important  company  established  about  the  same 
time  was  the  Edison  Telephone  Company,  and  soon  after 
its  formation  the  Crown  took  legal  action  against  them  for 
infringement  of  their  telegraph  monopoly  of  this  country. 
It  was  to  be  a  "  test  case  "  ;  and  Bright  was  applied  to  by 
Government  to  give  his  views  as  a  witness  on  their  behalf. 
This  he  did.  In  his  evidence,  Sir  Charles  proved  at  length 
that  telephones  worked  merely  by  varying  currents  of 
electricity  through  a  wire — no  sound  actually  passing.  He, 
in  fact,  showed  conclusively  that  a  telephone  was  a  form 
of  electric  telegraph,  and  therefore  came  within  the  meaning 
of  the  Telegraph  Acts  of  1868  and  1869.  It  may  be  added 
that  his  view  was  supported  by  most  of  the  eminent  practical 
experts  of  the  day. 

As  an  outcome  of  the  above  proceedings,  the  National 
Telephone  Company  now  works  under  licence  from  the 
Government  for  the  use  of  telephones  amongst  themselves 
by  people  in  the  same  city  or  town.  It  is  only  a  question 
of  a  few  years  when  the  telephone  system  comes  altogether 
under  the  direct  management  of  the  Post  Office.  The 
sooner  this  takes  place,  the  better  for  the  public — it  being 
indisputable  that  the  telegraph  and  telephone  are  intended 
to  work  together. 


Electric   Lighting 

/"XUR  friends  across  the  Channel  were  enthusiastic  about 
^^  electric  lighting  long  before  it  was  seriously  dealt  with 
in  England.  Important  installations  in  Paris  illuminated 
the  Rue  de  1'Opera  and  other  main  thoroughfares  several 
years  antecedent  to  any  public  lighting  being  carried  out 
in  London. 

The  earliest  experiment  here  was  made  with  a  few  Jabloch- 
koff  lights  on  the  Embankment  ;  and  the  first  commercial 
undertaking  in  this  direction  was  the  British  Electric  Light 
Company,  established  in  1878.  Mr.  Joseph  Hubback,  a 
former  mayor  of  Liverpool,  was  the  chairman,  and  among 
the  directors  were  Mr.  Edward  Easton,  C.E.  ;  General 
Sir  Henry  Green,  K.C.B.  ;  Mr.  Frederick  Walters,  of  the 
firm  of  Frederick  Huth  &  Co.  ;  Mr.  Adam  Blandy,  and 
Mr.  Edward  Bright,  whilst  Sir  Charles  acted  as  their  consult- 
ing engineer. 

The  basis  of  operations  was  the  purchase  of  the  English 
patents  for  M.  Gramme's  dynamo  machines,  and  the  subse- 
quent acquisition  of  Mr.  St.  George  Lane  Fox's  incandescent 
lamps,  as  well  as  the  arc  lamps  of  Mr.  Brockie  — the  first 
really  steady  light  of  the  kind.  Public  exhibitions  were 


given,  and  lighting  contracts  were  carried  out  with  a  num- 
ber of  clubs,  factories,  mills,  and  shops,  besides  various 
large  steamers,  including  some  of  the  Navy.  Amongst 
the  latter  was  H.M.S.  Bacchante,  commanded  by  Captain 
(now  Vice-Admiral)  Lord  Charles  Scott,  just  before  taking 
the  young  princes  Albert  Victor  and  George  on  their  voyage 
round  the  world.  Among  other  installations  was  the  South- 
Eastern  Railway  Station  at  Cannon  Street  with  its  approach- 
ing bridge.  Stafford  House  was  also  lighted  by  the  Company 
for  the  Duke  of  Sutherland. 

For  some  years  after  its  start,  the  Company  made  good 
progress.  Their  competitors  were  Messrs.  Siemens  Brothers 
and  Messrs.  R.  E.  Crompton  &  Co. — both  of  whom  had 
very  good  machines  of  their  own — as  well  as  the  "  Brush  " 
Company,  who  adopted  an  American  variety  of  dynamo. 
The  "  British  "  Company  established  a  large  central  station 
and  factory  in  Heddon  Street,  at  the  back  of  Regent  Street, 
and  started  lighting  some  clubs  in  Albemarle  Street  and  Dover 
Street,  by  means  of  overhead  wires,  in  1880.  These  wires 
were  slung  from  a  tall  mast  on  the  roof  of  the  premises,  for 
at  that  time  there  was  no  Electric  Lighting  Act  giving  powers 
to  undermine  the  streets  for  underground  wires. 

The  Company  prospered,  and  were  making  profits  by  1881. 
They  exhibited  their  improved  Gramme  apparatus  and  lamps 
on  a  large  scale  at  the  Paris  Exhibition  of  that  year,  and 
received  a  high  award.  They  were  also  the  first  to  bring 
forward  M.  Faure's  great  improvements  on  M.  Plante's 
storage  cells.  In  the  following  year  (1882)  the  "  British  " 
Company  gave  a  beautiful  demonstration  of  the  lighting 
effects  of  the  Lane-Fox  coloured  incandescent  lamps,  for 


dinner  table  ornamentation  and  house  decoration ;  this 
was  at  the  Crystal  Palace  during  the  International  Electric 
Exhibition  held  there.  The  Company  also  lighted  a  large 
section  of  the  building  with  their  Brockie  arc  lights. 

But  the  good  time  did  not  last  long.  The  Company's 
overhead  wires  were  cut  by  neighbouring  landlords,  on  the 
ground  that,  although  the  lines  were  stretched  far  above  their 
buildings,  their  (landlord)  rights  went  farther  and  extended 
from  the  bowels  of  the  earth  usque  ad  ccelum — or  even  beyond. 
Maybe  these  soil  holders  were  also  gas  holders  !  Then 
again,  when  the  limited  number  of  contracts  were  just 
enough  to  give  a  profit  to  the  few  engaged  in  the  business, 
their  principal  opponents,  the  "  Brush  Company  "  suddenly 
brought  out  and  floated  a  spawn  of  minor  companies,  to 
each  of  which  was  assigned  a  county  or  small  division  of  the 
United  Kingdom,  so  that  the  competition  was  tenfold,  to 
the  detriment  of  all  save  the  parent  company.  Sir  Charles 
predicted  that  a  "  winding-up  machine  "  would  soon  be 
required  ;  and  this  proved  to  be  so,  for  in  a  few  years 
most  of  these  subsidiary  companies  went  to  the  wall. 

In  1882  a  Bill,  was  brought  in  by  Government  giving 
electric  lighting  powers.  It,  however,  acted  as  an  obstacle 
to  development,  and  was  apparently  framed  to  protect 
the  threatened  interests  of  the  Gas  Companies  ;  for  while 
it  gave  municipalities  the  right,  under  certain  conditions, 
to  lay  underground  wires  and  supply  lights,  it  also  gave 
them  the  power  to  take  over  the  works  of  any  company 
in  twenty-one  years  at  a  valuation  of  their  apparatus,  pipes, 
wires,  etc. — for  what  they  would  fetch,  rather  than  as  a 
"going  concern."  Their  profits  and  "goodwill"  were,  in 

D  D 


fact,  not  to  be  taken  into  account.  It  is  needless  to  say 
that  neither  a  capitalist  nor  the  investing  public  would 
"  go  in  "  on  such  terms,  and  electric  lighting  was  practically 
hung  up  for  five  years  till  the  new  Act  was  passed  in  1887. 
That  extended  the  purchase  period  to  forty-two  years. 

During  this  early  stage  in  electric  lighting,  Sir  Charles 
had  devised  various  ingenious  improvements  in  dynamos, 
storage  cells,  methods  of  transformation  and  distribution, 
besides  modified  arc  and  incandescent  lamps  for  special 

He  was  also  largely  engaged  as  an  expert  before  Parlia- 
mentary committees  on  the  subject  ;  and  in  this  connection 
he  and  his  brother  furnished  a  number  of  particulars  relating 
to  the  cost  of  producing  light  by  electricity. 

The  Corporations  of  many  important  towns,  being  anxious 
to  consider  the  question  of  supplying  themselves  with  the 
electric  light,  applied — during  several  years  following 
1882 — for  estimates  and  specifications,  a  large  proportion 
of  which  were  carefully  worked  out  by  Sir  Charles,  in  con- 
junction with  Mr.  John  Muirhead,  M.Inst.C.E.,  and  his 
brother,  Dr.  Alexander  Muirhead  ;  but  the  majority  of 
the  municipalities  were  at  that  time  afraid  to  make  the 

The  slow  rate  of  progress  was,  no  doubt,  largely  due  to 
the  state  of  affairs  referred  to  in  the  following  letter  of 
Sir  Charles'  to  The  Times  :— 

To  the  Editor  of  "  The  Times" 

Your  leading  article  of  to-day  on  the  present  outlook  of  the 


working  of  the  Electric  Lighting  Act  points  to  the  considerable 
dangers  to  be  apprehended  by  ratepayers.  They  also  point  to 
trouble  of  other  kinds  hereafter,  arising  from  the  legislation  of 
last  year,  which  was,  to  my  mind,  too  much  hurried. 

My  object  in  addressing  you  now  is  to  show  that  much  dissatis- 
faction will  be  the  outcome  of  the  operation  of  the  Act,  if  the 
Provisional  Orders  being  issued  by  the  Board  of  Trade  should  be 
confirmed  by  Parliament  without  a  thoughtfu1  forecast  being 
made  of  the  future  position  of  the  consumers  and  the  persons  to 
whom  the  concessions  may  have  been  granted. 

It  happens  that  I  had  to  give  much  attention  to  the  matter, 
for  I  have  been  consulted  (in  association  with  Mr.  John  Muirhead) 
by  many  corporations  and  local  authorities  upon  the  technicali- 
ties involved  in  the  Provisional  Orders  in  which  the  ratepayers' 
interests  are  greatly  concerned. 

I  am  glad  that  Sir  Hussey  Vivian  has  succeeded  in  removing 
the  difficulties  in  the  way  of  obtaining  a  full  hearing  of  objections 
to  the  Bills  ;  but  unless  the  local  authorities  take  advantage  of 
this  by  acting  promptly,  they  will,  I  think,  have  cause  for  regret 

It  was  clearly  intended,  both  by  the  Act  itself  and  by  the  regu- 
lations of  the  Board  of  Trade,  that  local  authorities  should  apply 
for  the  orders  to  supply  electricity.  It  is  expressly  stated  in 
Rule  2  that  the  Board  "  will  give  a  preference  to  the  application 
of  the  local  authority  of  the  district."  As  it  is,  very  few  have 
so  applied  ;  consequently  the  consumers  will  have  to  look  to 
the  various  newly-formed  compan'es,  who  have  made  applica- 
tions, for  their  supply. 

I  do  not  wish  to  criticise  the  position  of  these  companies, 
but,  as  a  fair  example,  I  find  that  one  company  has  paid  nearly 
a  quarter  of  a  million  pounds  in  cash  and  shares  merely  for  one 
of  the  many  forms  of  incandescent  lamps.  What  hope,  there- 
fore, have  the  ratepayers  in  a  district  to  be  served  by  such  a 
company  of  obtaining  the  electric  light  at  a  reasonable  price  ? 

Several  millions  have  been  spent  by  the  companies  applying 
for  Provisional  Orders  in  unproductive  purchases  of  this  kind ; 


and  if  action  is  not  now  taken,  the  ratepayers  will  have  to  provide 
dividends  on  the  enormous  sums  thus  improvidently  expended 
on  promoters  and  patentees. 

Furthermore,  such  companies  are  tied  to  the  so-called  "  sys- 
tems "  for  which  they  have  paid  so  heavily  ;  and,  if  they  are 
allowed  to  obtain  what  will  be  virtual  monopolies,  they  are  not 
likely  to  sell  their  obsolete  plant  at  the  value  of  old  iron  in  order 
to  introduce  superior  and  more  economical  apparatus — when 
they  have  the  consumers  at  their  mercy.  For  it  may  be  assumed 
that — although  not  contemplated  by  the  Act — a  virtual  mono- 
poly will  be  acquired  owing  to  the  natural  objection  of  the  authori- 
ties to  grant  permission  to  several  companies  to  break  up  the 
same  streets. 

It  is  a  notable  fact  that  the  original  "  Gramme  "  patent  for 
the  best  known  and  most  largely  used  electric  lighting  machine 
expires  and  becomes  public  property  in  less  than  a  year.  When 
this  occurs,  the  capital  sunk  in  most  of  the  other  patents — even 
assuming  that  they  have  any  present  value — will,  pro  tanto,  be 
rendered  unproductive. 

Surely,  then,  the  local  authorities,  as  representing  the  rate- 
payers, should  ask  Parliament  to  refrain  from  confirming  to 
the  companies  these  Provisional  Orders  until  the  whole  question 
is  more  thoroughly  considered  in  all  its  bearings.  The  Metro- 
politan Board  of  Works  have  already  taken  a  step  in  this  direc- 
tion by  lodging  a  petition  to  Parliament. 

My  opinion  is,  that  if  the  present  Provisional  Orders  as  granted 
by  the  Board  of  Trade  to  the  various  light  companies  are  con- 
firmed by  Parliament,  the  effect  will  be  to  double  the  necessary 
price  of  electricity  to  the  consumers  in  the  districts  affected. 

Yours  faithfully, 


July  6th,  1883. 

In  December,  1884 — as   a  result   of  the   unsatisfactory 


condition  here  alluded  to — the  Board  of  Trade  called 
together  a  select  committee  to  thoroughly  consider  some  pro- 
posed amendments  to  the  Electric  Lighting  Bill  of  1882. 

This  committee  was  formed  at  the  instance  of  Lord 
Thurlow.  Besides  Sir  Charles,  it  included  Sir  Frederick 
Abel,  K.C.B.,  F.R.S. ;  Sir  Frederick  Bramwell,  F.R.S.  ; 
Sir  Daniel  Cooper,  K.C.M.G.  ;  Sir  Rawson  Rawson,  K.C.M.G., 
C.B.  ;  Sir  David  Salomons  ;  Sir  William  Thomson,  F.R.SS. 
(L.  &  E.)  ;  Professor  W.  E.  Ayrton,  F.R.S.  ;  Mr.  Latimer 
Clark,  M.Inst.C.E.  ;  Mr.  R.  E.  Crompton,  M.Inst.C.E.; 
Professor  W.  Crookes,  F.R.S.  ;  Professor  George  Forbes, 
F.R.S.E.  ;  Mr.  James  Staats  Forbes  ;  Captain  Douglas 
Galton,  C.B.,  F.R.S.  ;  Mr.  Robert  Hammond  ;  Professor 
Andrew  Jamieson,  F.R.S.E.  ;  Professor  Fleeming  Jenkin, 
F.R.SS.  (L.  &  E.)  ;  Major  S.  Flood-Page  ;  Mr.  J.  W.  Swan  ; 
Professor  Silvanus  Thompson,  and  Mr.  Frank  Wynne. 

Sir  Charles  sometimes  presided  at  the  meetings  of  this 
committee  ;  Mr.  Emile  Garcke  acted  as  secretary  through- 
out, whilst  the  entire  management  thereof  came  under  the 
control  of  the  late  Sir  Henry  Calcraft,  K.C.B.  (an  old  friend 
of  Sir  Charles'),  as  Permanent  Secretary  to  the  Board  of 

This  select  committee  of  inquiry  had  a  number  of  meet- 
ings, and  eventually  some  favourable  changes  in  the  Act 
were  submitted  and  approved. 

Amongst  others,  the  authorities  of  Bristol  once  applied 
to  Bright  to  investigate  the  question  of  utilising  the  great 
tidal  flow  of  the  river  Avon  as  a  source  of  power  to  drive 
dynamo  machines  for  the  distribution  of  electric  light  and 


power.  He  was  first  approached  by  Mr.  William  Smith, 
of  Clifton  Down,  while  at  his  post  in  Paris  as  a  British 
Commissioner  to  the  Exhibition.  The  following  is  a  copy 
of  Sir  Charles'  letter  to  Mr.  Smith  on  the  subject  :— 

PARIS,  27th  October,  1881. 

Since  you  left  Paris  I  have  considered  your  enquiry  as  to 
employing  the  tidal  waters  at  Bristol  for  electric  lighting  and 
other  purposes,  and  the  particulars  of  the  local  conditions  of 
the  question  which  you  named  to  me. 

The  practical  (or  controlling)  feature  of  the  proposition  lies 
in  the  availability  of  the  force  intermittently  accumulated  by  the 
tide.  From  your  description  of  ths  tidal  action,  and  the  sketch 
plan  which  you  drew  at  our  first  discussion  upon  the  subject, 
there  appears  to  be  an  hydraulic  force — which,  expressed  in 
horse-power,  would  be  very  great  indeed — now  thrown  away, 
but  which  is  capable  of  utilisation. 

I-  know  many  places  in  England  and  other  parts  of  the  world 
where  tidal  power  is  economically  used  ;  and  at  a  lecture  given 
in  the  early  part  of  the  year  at  the  Society  of  Arts  upon  "  Elec- 
trical Railroads  and  Tramways,"  I  drew  attention  to  the  special 
applicability  of  electricity  to  the  transmission  of  force  from  our 
great  watersheds,  and  the  tidal  power  where  the  physical  cir- 
cumstances of  the  place  can  be  profitably  dealt  with.  You  may 
assume,  at  all  events,  that  there  are  millions  of  horse-power  at 
present  running  to  waste  in  many  places,  but  which  by  the 
perfection  of  dynamo  electrical  machines  during  the  last  few 
years,  and  the  facility  of  carrying  force  by  electricity  to  a  dis- 
tance, may  be  brought  into  service  in  a  commercial  and  lucra- 
tive shape.  This  may  be  taken  as  an  established  scientific  fact. 

Of  course,  further  progress  will  be  made,  of  which  advantage 
can  be  taken  by  those  who  are  first  in  the  field  to  secure  the  use  of 
available  water-power  ;  but  as  far  as  we  have  progressed  at 
present  you  may  take  it  for  granted  that  given  so  much  in  horse- 


power  you  may  get  so  much  in  light — or  motive  power — for 
distributing  to  workshops,  without  any  cost  beyond  the  wear  and 
tear,  lubrication,  and  expense  of  supervision  (which  can  be  dis- 
tributed over  many  machines)  in  places  where  water-power  is 
economically  available. 

I  shall  be  glad  to  run  down  to  Bristol  on  my  return  to  England 
and  examine  the  locality  of  your  water  storage,  and  consider  its 
applicability  on  the  spot. 

Yours  very  truly, 


When  the  letter  was  placed  before  the  Town  Council, 
it  was  accompanied  by  some  interesting  data  from  the 
Dock  Engineer,  Mr.  Thomas  Howard,  as  to  the  amount  and 
speed  of  the  water  passing,  supplemented  by  a  series  of 
calculations  worked  out  by  Professor  Silvanus  Thompson, 
F.R.S.,  of  Bristol  University  College,  showing  that  the  avail- 
able tidal  power  amounted,  per  tide — taken  only  on  the 
outflow — as  follows  : — 

At  Totterdown,  279,389  horse-power. 
,,  Rownham  Ferry,  859,658  horse-power. 
,,  Mouth  of  River,  2,149,146  horse-power. 
Giving  a  total  of  no  less  than  3,288,193  horse-power  per  tide. 

The  economical  utilisation  of  this  enormous  power- 
representing  about  75  billions  of  foot-pounds  per  annum — 
was  a  curious  problem  to  solve. 

In  working  out  the  details,  the  calculations  made  by  Sir 
Charles  went  to  show  that  the  cost  of  the  cumbrous  appliances 
necessary  to  turn  the  tide  to  account— whether  by  a  great 
series  of  slow-moving  mill  wheels,  or  by  great  floats — coupled 
with  the  necessity  for  storage  of  electricity  during  the  inter- 


vals  of  motion,  would  entail  a  far  heavier  prime  cost  than 
steam  power  close  to  its  work  on  shore.  The  conditions 
were,  in  fact,  unfavourable  in  this  instance  to  the  economical 
utilisation  of  water  power. 

Whilst  at  Bristol  in  connection  with  this  matter,  Sir 
Charles  stayed  a  little  distance  off  with  his  son-in-law  and 
daughter,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Mervyn  King — a  visit  he  naturally 
much  enjoyed. 

At  the  special  invitation  of  the  Governors  of  the  Bristol 
Trade  and  Mining  Schools  he  distributed  the  prizes  for  that 
year.  In  doing  so  he  gave  an  exhaustive  address  to  a  great 
audience  of  scholars.  Sir  Charles  chose  for  his  subject 
"  Electric  Science,"  and  during  his  discourse  he  explained 
the  various  developments  of  its  application  up  to  date. 

Sir  Charles  Bright  continued  to  take  an  active  part  in  the 
development  of  electric  lighting  up  to  the  last. 

Early  in  1888  he  undertook  to  act  as  engineer  to  the  St. 
James'  and  Pall  Mall  Electric  Lighting  Company— one  of 
the  companies  formed  under  the  New  Act.1  A  long  report 
was  drafted  by  Bright  for  the  Company  a  day  or  two 
before  his  death,  but  he  did  not  live  to  sign  it.  His  brother 
subsequently  sent  it  in  to  the  Board  ;  and  Sir  Charles  was 
later  succeeded  in  the  capacity  of  consulting  engineer  by 
an  old  friend— Professor  George  Forbes,  F.R.SS.  (L.  &  E.). 

1  The  enormous  work  done  by  the  "  St.  James'  and  Pall  Mall" 
Company— over  a  comparatively  small  area— up  to  the  year  1895, 
was  well  shown  in  the  Electrical  Times  of  March  5th,  1896.  This  Com- 
pany is  certainly  one  of  the  greatest  successes  of  the  new  illumina- 


Various    Evidence  and  Reports 

The  "  Direct  United  States  "  Cable  Arbitration 

\  N  interesting  Cable  case  was  arbitrated  upon  in  1878, 
-^*-  in  which  Sir  Charles  Bright  gave  important  and 
rather  amusing  evidence  :— 

The  "  Direct  United  States"  Cable  was  made  and  laid  by 
Messrs.  Siemens  Bros.,  in  1875,  for  the  Company  so  named, 
between  this  country  and  the  States.  But  owing  to  their 
opponents — the  original  Anglo-American  Telegraph  Company 
—cutting  the  message  tariff  down  to  a  shilling  per  word, 
and  partly  to  mysterious  breaks  of  the  cable,  the  "  Direct 
Company  "  did  not  yield  a  sufficient  return,  and  the  majority 
of  shareholders  resolved  to  wind  it  up.  The  liquidators 
appointed  arranged  to  form  a  new  company  to  work  with 
the  "  Anglo-American  Company  "  under  an  arrangement  ; 
but  owing  to  differences  on  the  subject  the  matter  had  to 
be  brought  before  an  arbitrator. 

Naturally  much  of  the  value  of  the  "  Direct  "  Com- 
pany depended  upon  the  existing  condition  of  their  cable, 
and  it  was  sought  to  show,  on  behalf  of  those  negotiating 
the  proposed  alliance  with  the  "  Anglo,"  that  the  serving 


of  yarn  protecting  the  outer  wires  was  in  a  state  of  rapid 
decay,  and  that  the  wires  themselves  were  partly  rusted 
away.  In  corroboration  of  this,  a  length  was  produced 
which  had  been  picked  up  when  a  fault  had  been  grappled 
for.  Sure  enough,  the  yarn  covering  was  scarred  with 
the  pit -holes,  as  though  it  had  had  the  small-pox  ;  moreover, 
at  the  ends  of  the  specimen  the  iron  wires  were  attenu- 
ated to  fine  points. 

The  holes  above  alluded  to  were  attributed  by  the  other 
side  to  the  ravages  of  the  teredo.  Sir  Charles,  however, 
created  somewhat  of  a  sensation  on  the  tenth  day  of  the 
arbitration  by  pronouncing  that  they  were  more  likely 
to  be  due  to  cockroaches  !  In  the  first  place,  he  expressed 
his  disbelief  in  the  existence  of  teredoes  in  great  depths 
in  the  North  Atlantic  ;  and  after  minute  examination  of 
the  specimen,  he  said,  regarding  the  nibbles  :— 

I  have  formed  an  opinion  that  they  have  not  been  caused  by 
any  insect  at  the  bottom  of  the  sea,  but  I  believe  them  to  be 
produced  by  cockroaches  at  the  bottom  of  the  ship.  I  have  had  a 
book  of  my  own  in  my  cabin  in  the  West  Indies,  which  is  eaten,  in 
circles  like  that,  by  cockroaches.  This  is  almost  exactly  similar 
to  the  leaves  of  the  book  eaten  through.  I  should  like  to  know 
the  history  of  that  specimen  from  the  time  it  was  picked  up. 

There  are  some  small  shells  in  and  about  the  outside  of  the 
cable — in  fact,  such  as  you  would  always  get  up  with  any  cable 
which  has  been  resting  at  the  bottom.  But  they  are  not  insects 
of  the  character  I  have  been  accustomed  to  see  in  specimens 
brought  up  where  the  hemp  has  been  eaten  into  by  them,  and  in 
which — in  every  case  I  have  seen  specimens — a  great  number 
of  the  insects  have  remained,  almost  filling  up  the  holes  themselves. 
There  are  many  of  these  specimens  in  existence,  and  some  have 
been  photographed. 


The  Umpire  :     "  Cockroaches  bore,  do  they  ?  " 
Sir  Charles  :     ' '  They  eat  round  the  holes  with  their  mandibles. " 
The  Umpire  :     "  How  deep  ?  " 

Sir  Charles  :  "I  have  had  forty  or  fifty  pages  of  a  book  bored 
through."  1 

As  regards  the  attenuation  of  the  iron  wires  at  the  end 
of  the  specimen,  as  alleged,  from  general  rusting  away,  Sir 
Charles  put  the  wires  in  a  gauge  and  showed  that  they 
were  the  same  size  as  when  the  cable  was  made,  except 
just  at  the  end  of  the  specimen,  where  the  cable  had  broken, 
and  where  they  were  drawn  down  to  points — as  he  ex- 
plained— by  excessive  strain. 

The  above  facts  and  opinions  naturally  went  some  way 
in  upsetting  the  important  contentions  of  the  other  side. 

Other  Atlantic  Cables 

Since  the  1865  and  1866  Atlantic  Cables,  several  others 
had  been  laid.  In  addition  to  the  Direct  United  States 
Cable  just  referred  to,  there  had  been  the  French  Atlantic 
Cable  of  1869,  to  which  Sir  Charles  had  acted  as  con- 
sulting engineer.  These  and  the  Anglo-American  Com- 
pany's lines  were  eventually  "  pooled  "  together  so  far  as 
commercial  earnings  went. 

Owing  to  the  continuance  of  the  Atlantic  Cable  monopoly 
by  the  amalgamation  or  "  pooling  "  arrangements  come 
to  from  time  to  time  by  the  companies  concerned,  Mr. 
James  Gordon  Bennett,  the  well-known  proprietor  of  the 

1  Arbitration  between  Johann  Carl  Ludwig  Loeffler  and  the  liqui- 
dators of  the  Direct  United  States  Cable,  August  gth,  1878.  Ques- 
tions 4,249-4,253. 


New  York  Herald,  combined  with  Mr.  Mackay  (the  Silver 
King),  in  1882,  to  lay  a  couple  of  entirely  independent 
lines.  Mr.  Bennett — with  his  agent  in  England,  Capt.  A.  H. 
Clark — consulted  Sir  Charles  on  the  subject,  and  the  latter 
drew  out  a  full  specification  embodying  all  that  was  best 
for  the  construction  of  an  Atlantic  cable.1 

The  lines  were  subsequently  made  and  laid  by  Messrs. 
Siemens  ;  and  have  been  worked  most  satisfactorily  since, 
as  the  Commercial  Cable  Company's  property. 

Duplex  Telegraphy 

During  1883,  Mr.  John  Muirhead,  who — in  conjunc- 
tion with  his  brother  and  Mr.  Herbert  Taylor  had  long 
before  invented  the  system  of  electrically  duplexing  cables 
so  universally  adopted — found  that  the  French  Govern- 
ment had  been  employing  a  similar  method  of  duplexing 
recently  patented  by  Mr.  Ailhaud,  in  connection  with  certain 
cables  belonging  to  the  Administration.  He  was  obliged  to 
take  proceedings  in  the  matter,  and  consulted  Sir  Charles, 
who  studied  the  case  very  closely  and  wrote  a  digest  on 
the  subject.  The  report  was  long  and  necessarily  technical ; 
but,  determined  on  the  fact  of  infringement,  his  conclu- 
sions were  as  follows  :— 

In  the  arrangement  for  the  Marseilles-Algiers  cable  they  (the 
French  Government)  use  at  least  two  of  the  methods  invented 
by  Muirhead,  and  consequently  they  infringe  his  patent. 

I  am  informed  that  Ailhaud's  Counsel  allege  that  as  he  did 

1  Sir  Charles'  Report  on  the  subject  was  reproduced  in  Appendix 
23  of  Vol.  II  of  the  original  biography. 


not  employ  in  his  combination  the  special  form  of  artificial  cable 
patented  by  Muirhead,  he  could  not  have  infringed  the  latter 's 
patent.  To  this  I  reply  that  the  devices  indicated  by  Muir- 
head constituting  separate  and  distinct  inventions,  may  be  apr 
plied  equally  to  all  forms  of  duplex,  and  may  be  worked  with 
any  system  of  artificial  line.  I  am  of  opinion  that  Mr.  Muir- 
head's  invention  has  been  laid  under  contribution  by  Ailhaud 
in  all  its  essential  features. 


July  ijth,  1883. 

It  remains  only  to  be  said  that  the  matter  was  ulti- 
mately settled  in  Mr.  Muirhead's  favour. 

The  Phonopore 

In  the  year  1884,  Mr.  C.  Langdon  Davies  invented  his 
phonopore  telegraph.  It  was  almost  immediately  brought 
to  Sir  Charles'  notice.  He  became  much  interested 
—in  fact  enthusiastic  about  it — and  drew  up  a  long  report 
thereon.  Sir  Charles  was  afterwards  the  first  president 
of  the  Phonopore  Syndicate,  remaining  so  up  to  the  time 
of  his  death. 

This  apparatus  forms  a  most  valuable  adjunct  to  land- 
line  systems  for  purposes  of  duplex  telegraphy — the  line 
being  duplexed  also,  if  required — and  it  is  perhaps  surprising 
that  it  has  not  been  yet  turned  to  still  further  account. 
On  aerial  lines,  it  has  proved  to  be  capable  of  working 
through  500  miles  and  over.  It  is  now  doing  good  work 
on  the  Great  Western,  Midland,  Great  Eastern  and  Brighton 
Railways.  If  applied  in  connection  with  ordinary  duplex 
telegraphy  the  combined  systems  effect  no  less  than  180 
(twenty  to  thirty  worded)  messages  an  hour  ! 


The    Paris  Exhibition 

SO  far  ahead  had  France  progressed  in  public  electric 
lighting,  and  so  important  had  the  question  of  the 
introduction  of  telephones  become — in  conjunction  with 
the  many  improvements  in  telegraphy  and  other  electrical 
appliances — that  in  1880  the  Government  of  the  Republic 
decided  to  inaugurate  an  International  Electrical  Exhibition 
in  Paris  during  the  following  year.  In  October,  1880, 
they  communicated  officially  with  the  other  Governments. 
The  result,  as  regards  England,  is  very  clearly  stated  in 
the  following  extract  from  The  Times  of  July  4th,  1881  :— 

The  English  Foreign  Office — after  the  natural  period  of  incu- 
bation for  such  documents — received  an  invitation  to  appoint 
Commissioners  to  assist  in  the  work. 

By  the  time  this  had  been  received  and  duly  considered,  the 
Belgian  Government,  to  quote  one  instance  out  of  several,  had 
collected  together  double  the  number  of  exhibitors  that  England 
had  the  slightest  chance  of  bringing  forward.  Meanwhile  the 
Foreign  Office  found  itself  unable  to  deal  with  the  undertaking 
proposed,  so  it  was  passed  on  successively  to  the  Post  Office, 
the  Board  of  Trade,  South  Kensington,  and  every  department 
which  could  possibly  be  expected  to  deal  with  a  suggestion  that 
an  Exhibition  could  be  held  on  other  than  the  approved  models, 
and  without  an  expenditure  of  £50,000  or  £60,000  of  public 



money.  Mr.  Gladstone,  on  the  perfectly  intelligible  general 
ground  that  it  is  not  the  province  of  Government  to  foster  special 
and  sectional  exhibitions,  refused  to  sanction  any  grant  of  money, 
and  the  entire  matter  sank  into  stillness  till  a  question  was  asked 
in  the  House  of  Commons  of  Sir  C.  Dilke,  as  Under-Secretary 
for  Foreign  Affairs,  whether  the  Government  had  really  no  inten- 
tion of  taking  any  part  in  what  was  going  on.  Sir  Charles  Dilke 
replied  that  the  Government  had  no  intention  of  appointing  any 

Upon  Sir  Charles  Dilke 's  reply  becoming  known  in  Paris,  M. 
Berger,  the  Commissaire-General  of  the  Exhibition,  wrote  to  the 
principal  technical  society  in  England  devoted  to  electricity  and 
invited  its  co-operation  in  default  of  that  of  the  Government. 

The  Society  of  Telegraph  Engineers  and  Electricians  at  once 
set  to  work,  by  forming  and  sending  to  Paris,  to  put  things  into 
shape,  a  special  committee,  of  which  Sir  Charles  Bright  was 
chairman,  and  Mr.  W.  H.  Preece  and  Mr.  Edward  Graves,  chief 
officers  of  the  Postal  Telegraphs,  and  Professor  D.  E.  Hughes, 
together  with  several  other  well-known  scientific  men,  were 

The  time  originally  cut  to  waste  having  been  in  great  measure 
recovered,  and  every  arrangement  having  been  made  without 
official  aid  or  interference,  the  Government  was  at  last  moved 
to  appoint  a  Commission,  of  which  the  Earl  of  Crawford  and 
Balcarres,  K.T.,  was  the  Chief  Commissioner,  supported  by  Sir 
Charles  Bright,  Professor  Hughes,  and  Colonel  Webber,  R.E.1 

After  the  appointment  of  the  Commission  matters  were 
pushed  on  in  this  country,  and  a  large  number  of  exhibitors 
came  forward. 

The  exhibition  was  opened  during  the  summer  of  1881 
in  the  great  Palais  de  1'Industrie,  and  proved  a  thorough 

1  Subsequently  Major-General  C.  E.  Webber,  C.B. 


success.  As  the  chief  president  of  the  British  section,  Sir 
Charles  attended  especially  to  the  allocation  and  arrange- 
ment of  the  spaces  for  British  exhibitors.  Among  the 
latter  was  his  brother,  who  showed  on  a  large  scale  the  fire 
alarm  system  already  widely  adopted  in  London  and  else- 
where, together  with  other  of  their  joint  inventions,  for 
which  a  gold  medal  was  awarded  by  the  International 
Jury.  The  British  Electric  Light  Company — with  which 
Sir  Charles  and  his  brother  were,  as  already  shown,  closely 
associated — also  had  an  extensive  exhibit  of  Gramme 
machines,  Brockie  arc  lights,  and  Lane-Fox  incandescent 
lamps,  which  illuminated  part  of  the  Exhibition.  The 
latter  work  was  ably  carried  out  by  their  engineer,  Mr. 
Radcliffe  Ward,  who  has  more  recently  taken  an  active 
part  in  the  introduction  of  electro-motor  omnibuses  and 
vehicles  in  London. 

Subsequently,  a  paper  concerning  the  Exhibition  was 
read  by  Sir  Charles  and  Professor  Hughes  before  the  Society 
of  Telegraph  Engineers.1 

His  many  friends  in  French  official  circles,  coupled  with 
his  unvarying  urbanity,  served  to  render  Sir  Charles  very 
popular  in  Paris  as  a  British  Commissioner. 

An  International  Congress — consisting  of  about  200  of 
the  most  distinguished  electrical  savants  of  Europe,  each 
nominated  by  their  respective  Governments— also  held  a 
series  of  meetings  and  discussions  in  a  special  congress 
room  at  the  Exhibition.  Bright  was  naturally  amongst 

"  The  Paris  International  Exhibition  of  Electricity,"  1881,  by  Sir 
Charles  Bright,  M.Inst.C.E.  and  Professor  D.  E.  Hughes,  F.R.S. 
See  Journal  Inst.  E.E.,  vol.  x,  p.  402. 


the  delegates  for  the  United  Kingdom.  Many  important 
questions  were  discussed  and  dealt  with,  including  various 
points  of  international  electrical  measures  and  nomen- 

During  the  period  of  the  Exhibition  the  Prince  of  Wales 
—now  His  Majesty  the  King — paid  it  a  visit,  and  on  this 
occasion  Sir  Charles  conducted  His  Royal  Highness  over. 
This  honour  Bright  had  previously  enjoyed  during  the 
manufacture  of  the  First  Atlantic  Cable— a  fact  which  the 
Prince  had,  as  is  his  wont,  kept  fresh  in  his  memory. 

The  French  Government  recognised  the  services  of  Sir 
Charles  and  his  three  colleagues  by  making  them  officers 
of  the  Legion  of  Honour. 

About  this  time  the  Societe  Internationale  des  Electriciens 
came  into  existence,  and  Sir  Charles  had  the  honour  of 
becoming  the  first  President,  representing  Great  Britain. 



The  Institution   of  Electrical  Engineers 

\  T  the  end  of  1886  Sir  Charles  was  elected  President  of 
'*•*•  the  Society  of  Electrical  Engineers  and  Electricians  1 
for  the  Jubilee  Year  (1887)  of  Her  Majesty's  reign. 

As  President,  Sir  Charles  gave  the  usual  inaugural  address 
at  the  commencement  of  the  session.  Being  also  the  Jubilee 
of  the  Electric  Telegraph,  he  chose  as  his  subject  the  initia- 
tion and  progress  of  Electric  Telegraphs  (land  and  sub- 
marine) up  to  date,  bringing  forward  some  noteworthy 

Speaking  of  this  address  and  of  his  presidency,  the 
Electrical  Review  remarked  :— 

The  election  of  Sir  Charles  Bright  on  the  occasion  of  the  Jubilee 
year  of  the  Telegraph,  as  well  as  in  the  Jubilee  year  of  the  Queen, 
may  be  taken  as  a  special  compliment  to  one  who  has  worked 
so  hard  to  promote  the  interests  of  telegraphy.  So  identified 
has  been  his  career  with  the  step-by-step  progress  of  the  telegraph 
that  it  would  have  been  impossible  to  avoid  mentioning  the  part 

1  Since  incorporated  as  the  Institution  of  Electrical  Engineers. 

2  Sir  Charles'   Presidential  Address  was  reproduced  in    full    in 
Appendix  25  of  Vol.  II  of  the  original  biography  ;  and  also,  of  course, 
in  the  Journal  of  the  Institution  in  1887. 



he  personally  played  in  the  advancement  of  the  science,  without 
creating  a  number  of  serious  blanks  in  the  story.  Sir  Charles' 
address  will  long  be  remembered  for  its  early  recollections  and 
history  of  telegraphy.  It  is,  in  fact,  imbued  with  all  the  force 
and  character  of  an  autobiography. 

Leading  articles  concerning  Sir  Charles'  address  also 
appeared  in  The  Times,  Standard  and  other  journals  the 
following  morning. 

In  the  capacity  of  President,  again,  Sir  Charles  and  Lady 
Bright  received  the  Institution  at  a  soiree  on  December  I5th, 
at  Prince's  Hall,  Piccadilly,  at  which  a  large  and  dis- 
tinguished assembly  were  present. 

During  his  presidential  year,  many  papers  of  great 
interest  were  read,  but  the  one  which  Sir  Charles  naturally 
took  special  interest  in  was  that  of  his  former  pupil,  Mr. 
Edward  Stallibrass,  A.M.Inst.C.E.,  on  "  Deep  Sea  Sound- 
ing in  Connection  with  Submarine  Telegraphy." 

Sir  Charles  had  scarcely  completed  the  period  of  presi- 
dency when  his  untimely  and  sudden  death  occurred. 

On  the  occasion  of  his  funeral,  the  Council  of  the  Society 
attended  in  full  force. 

The  President,  who  followed,  was  an  old  friend  of  Sir 
Charles'  from  the  earliest  telegraph  days— the  late  Mr. 
Edward  Graves,  Chief  Engineer  of  H.M.  Post  Office.  At 
the  first  meeting  of  the  Society  after  Sir  Charles'  death,  Mr. 
Graves  commenced  the  proceedings  by  moving  the  following 
resolution  :— 

"  That  an  expression  of  our  deep  regret  for  his  loss  and  our 
sincere  sympathy  with  Lady  Bright  and  the  members  of  Sir 
Charles  Bright's  family  in  their  bereavement  be  agreed  to  ;  and 


that  the  Secretary  be  instructed  to  convey  an  expression  of  the 
same  to  Lady  Bright." 

This  followed  on  some  remarks  of  the  President,  in  which 
he  said,  inter  alia  : — 

"  Sir  Charles  Bright,  our  immediate  Past-President,  was  known 
to  every  one  by  the  reputation  he  early  acquired  in  connection 
with  the  spanning  of  the  Atlantic  Ocean  by  a  submarine  cable, 
and  by  proving  that  there  was  no  limit  of  distance,  or  depth,  to 
the  success  of  submarine  telegraphy.  I  will  not  attempt  to 
deal  with  all  his  other  great  works.  In  him  we  lose  not  only 
a  member  of  great  eminence,  whose  name  will  be  for  ever 
associated  with  some  of  the  greatest  achievements  of  Electrical 
Engineering,  but  those  who  were  personally  acquainted  with 
him,  as  I  was  for  more  than  thirty  years,  lose  also  a  genial 
and  kind-hearted  friend." 

In  the  following  year  Sir  William  Thomson  (afterwards 
Lord  Kelvin)  became  President  ;  and  in  opening  the 
proceedings,  he  took  occasion  to  make  a  special  allusion 
to  his  former  shipmate.  Again,  at  the  first  annual  dinner 
of  the  Institution  in  the  same  year,  Sir  William  Thomson 
(President),  in  responding  to  the  toast  of  the  evening— 
'  The  Institution  "  —proposed  by  Lord  Salisbury,  began  by 
paying  a  warm  tribute  to  Sir  Charles'  work. 

Yet  again,  as  a  further  tribute,  on  taking  the  presiden- 
tial chair  in  1897,  Sir  Henry  Mance,  C.I.E.,  M.Inst.C.E., 
remarked  in  his  address  :—  "  If  we,  as  engineers,  desire 
to  do  honour  to  any  one  individual  who  pre-eminently 
distinguished  himself  in  the  development  of  oceanic  tele- 
graphy, we  have  simply  to  refer  to  the  list  of  our  Past 
Presidents,  and  select  the  name  of  Charles  Tilston  Bright." 


Colleagues  and  Pupils 

man  could  carry  out  such  arduous  and  great  works 
as  were  undertaken  by  Sir  Charles  Bright  without 
able  assistance,  and  in  selecting  his  associates  and  assistants, 
Sir  Charles  evinced  throughout  his  knowledge,  not  only  of 
antecedents,  but  of  character.  Further,  amongst  all 
those  who  worked  with  him — on  the  Atlantic,  in  the  East 
or  West  Indies,  in  this  country  or  elsewhere — he  always 
established  and  maintained  a  thorough  esprit  dc  corps  and 
good  feeling,  that  led  to  the  happiest  results. 

Generally  speaking,  his  coadjutors  were  men  of  mark  ; 
and  the  pupils  which  he  occasionally  received,  have,  as  a 
rule,  made  names  for  themselves  in  the  engineering  and 
scientific  world.  Most  of  these  have  been  referred  to,  as 
occasion  arose,  in  the  course  of  this  memoir. 

In  only  one  instance  did  Sir  Charles  despair  of  a  pupil, 
and  the  case  was  peculiar.  The  young  fellow  was  well 
trained,  and  the  grandson  of  a  great  legal  luminary.  He 
had  mostly  lived  in  the  country,  and  was  an  amateur 
about  bees.  He  used  to  bring  bars  of  honey  to  the  office, 
and  the  dear  little  insect  filled  his  head  so  entirely  that 



no  electricity  could  be  got  into  it  ;  in  fact  he  really  had  "  a 
bee  in  his  bonnet,"  and  the  arrangement  with  him  had 
to  be  cancelled.  Subsequently  making  his  way  to  the 
Antipodes,  he  got  together  heaps  of  hives,  and  has  done  well 
ever  since — in  the  bee  line,  at  any  rate. 




ROM  the  outset  both  Charles  Bright  and  his  brother 
interested  themselves  greatly  in  the  Volunteer  move- 
ment; and  very  shortly  after  Government  authorised  the 
formation  of  corps — during  the  French  scare  of  1859 — Sir 
Charles  raised  a  company  from  the  officers  and  employes 
of  the  Magnetic  Company  in  London.  His  brother  Edward 
did  the  same  at  Liverpool,  and  both  received  commissions  as 

It  was  necessary  that  isolated  companies  should  form 
part  of  a  battalion,  so  Bright  joined  the  7th  Surrey  Regi- 
ment, which  had  started  a  little  before  under  the  command 
of  Colonel  Beresford,  M.P. 

Though  for  many  years  afterwards  Sir  Charles  attended 
Volunteer  gatherings  of  one  description  or  another,  he 
became  too  much  occupied  to  take  an  active  part  in  the 
drilling,  parading,  shooting,  etc.,  and  eventually  had  to 
resign  when  going  out  to  lay  the  cables  in  the  Persian 

His  brother  raised  a  second  company  in  Liverpool,  and 
was  promoted  to  Captain-Commandant. 




FROM  an  early  period  in  his  life  Sir  Charles  interested 
himself  in  Freemasonry.  Both  he  and  Edward 
Bright  joined  the  craft  in  1854,  entering  the  Cambermere 
Lodge  of  Cheshire  on  the  same  day. 

In  later  times  he  filled  the  position  of  Master  in  the  Bard 
of  Avon  and  other  Lodges.  He  also  passed  through  the 
Chair  of  several  Arch  Chapters,  as  well  as  in  Mark  Masonry. 

Then,  again,  Sir  Charles  was  for  a  considerable  time  the 
Deputy  Grand  Master  for  Middlesex,  of  which  the  late 
Colonel  Sir  Francis  Burdett,  Bart.,  was  Grand  Master. 

Moreover,  he  was  a  member  of  the  "  Prince  of  Wales  " 
Lodge,  of  which  H.R.H.  is  permanent  Master. 

Finally,  he  was  a  founder  of  the  "  Quadratic  "  Lodge 
at  Hampton  Court,  of  which  he  became  Master  ;  the 
"  Saye  and  Sele  "  Lodge  at  Belvidere  ;  and  the  "  Electric  " 
Lodge.  Of  the  latter  his  brother  was  the  first  Master, 
followed  by  Bro.  W.  H.  Preece,1  and  by  the  late  Mr. 
Edward  Graves,  at  that  time  engineer  to  the  Postal  Tele- 
graphs. The  latter  Lodge  was,  in  fact — as  may  be  imagined 
— constituted  for  members  of  the  electrical  profession. 

1  Now  Sir  W.  H.   Preece,  K.C.B. 



As  an  instance  of  the  esteem  in  which  the  subject  of  this 
memoir  was  held  by  his  brother  Masons,  we  may  mention 
that  his  name  was  adopted  as  the  title  of  the  Sir  Charles 
Bright  Lodge  at  Teddington.  Of  this  he  was  the  first 


Home  Life  and   Recreations 

TN  his  domestic  relations  the  subject  of  this  biography 
had  his  share  of  happiness,  as  well  as  the  reverse. 
Let  us  confine  ourselves  to  the  former. 

As  we  have  seen,  at  the  early  age  of  twenty  he  married 
Miss  Hannah  Barrick  Taylor,  fourth  daughter  of  the  late 
John  Taylor,  of  an  old  Yorkshire  family  (originally  hailing 
from  Treeton)  who  had  been  previously  connected  by 
marriage  with  the  Brights.  Lady  Bright  survives  Sir  Charles. 

In  1877,  Sir  Charles'  eldest  daughter,  Agnes,  married 
Mr.  Mervyn  Kersteman  King,  son  of  Mr.  William  Poole 
King,  of  Avonside,  Clifton  Down,  formerly  High  Sheriff 
of  Bristol,  and  head  of  one  of  the  leading  Bristol  ship- 
owning  firms.1 

The  second  daughter  (Mary)  married  Mr.  David  Jardine 

1  To  the  deep  grief  of  all  her  relations — and  indeed  of  all  who 
knew  her  intimately — this  daughter  died  of  scarlet  fever,  in  1894, 
leaving  a  son  and  daughter.  The  son,  named  after  Sir  Charles,  is 
probably  the  only  instance  of  a  boy  who  (when  leaving  Eton  for 
Cambridge)  was  6  ft.  4  in.  at  the  age  of  seventeen.  In  this  he  more 
than  took  after  his  grandfather,  for  Sir  Charles  stood  a  little  over 
6  feet.  He  later  joined  the  Coldstream  Guards,  and  quite  recently 
married  Lady  Clare  Noel,  daughter  of  the  Earl  of  Gainsborough. 


Jardine,  now  of  Jardine  and  other  Dumfries-shire  estates, 
son  of  the  late  James  Jardine,  and  nephew  of  Sir  Robert 
Jardine,  Bart,  M.P. 

The  latter  marriage  was  solemnised  at  St.  Paul's,  Knights- 
bridge,  on  January  I4th,  1886,  Bright  giving  away  his 

A  few  months  later — owing  to  heavy  pecuniary  losses — 
the  family  removed  from  Bolton  Gardens,  South  Kensing- 
ton, to  a  smaller  house  in  Philbeach  Gardens,  a  little  further 

The  following  year,  on  the  occasion  of  the  Queen's  Jubilee, 
Sir  Charles  and  his  wife  were  amongst  those  present  at  the 
service  in  Westminster  Abbey.  This  was  the  last  occasion 
on  which  they  appeared  in  public  together. 

Let  us  now,  finally,  say  a  few  words  regarding  Bright's 
social  enjoyments.  The  subject  of  our  biography  was  not, 
at  any  time  in  his  life,  what  would  be  called  a  "  Society  " 
man.  His  profession  always  kept  him  fully  occupied ;  and  as 
regards  entertaining,  his  tastes  ran  rather  in  the  direction 
of  small  and  quiet  parties  of  real  friends,  than  of  entertaining 
a  roomful  of  mere  acquaintances. 

Shooting  and  Fishing 

Although  Sir  Charles  adhered,  as  a  rule,  to  the  adage  he 
had  adopted  and  often  quoted  through  life,  of  "  nulla  dies 
sine  linea,"  yet  he  liked  "  a  day  off  "  occasionally  ;  and 
thoroughly  enjoyed  relaxation  from  work  in  shooting  and 
fishing— particularly  the  former.  He  had  been  brought  up 


to  both  from  boyhood,  and  in  the  sixties  he  joined  with  his 
friends,  Mr.  Edwin  Clark,  C.E.,  in  a  lovely  shooting  manor, 
Bought  on  Court,  near  Maidstone,  where  game  was  plenti- 
ful, coupled  with  good  pike  and  perch  in  a  mere  on  the 
estate.  It  was  one  of  his  hobbies  to  be  up  early  and  get  a 
bit  of  fishing  before  the  shoot — in  fact  before  breakfast 
began  1 ;  and  on  such  occasions  his  maxim  of  "  nulla  dies 
sine  linea  "  was  applied  to  the  fishing-line. 

It  was  rather  an  awkward  country  to  shoot  over  in 
September  (though  hilly  and  beautiful),  owing  to  various  hop 
gardens  and  the  many  hop-pickers  on  the  manor  ;  and 
an  instance  occurred  when  the  sport  was  somewhat  marred 
by  one  of  his  guests  peppering  both  a  schoolmaster  and  a 
hop-picker  in  the  course  of  the  same  day.  The  friend 
was  a  fair,  but  greedy,  shot,  and  wouldn't  wait  for  the  birds 
to  rise  properly. 

Later  on,  he  had  some  very  pleasant  days  of  sport  near 
Horsham  with  his  friend  Sir  Richard  Glass  (who  made 
half  of  the  first  Atlantic  Cable)  and  others.  Still  later,  with 
his  son-in-law,  Mr.  Mervyn  King,  at  Kingsnympton  Park, 
near  South  Molton  and  Chulmleigh,  North  Devon. 

Sir  Charles  was  also  wont  to  shoot  with  an  old  school- 

1  Bright  was  always  an  early  riser.  When  not  employed  as  above 
it  was  a  custom  with  him  at  daybreak  to  sketch  out  ideas  on  a  slate 
kept  at  hand. 

Thus,  he  got  through  a  good  deal  from  6  o'clock  till  breakfast  time. 
He  similarly  occupied  his  spare  moments  when  on  holiday  as  well 
as  at  his  office  ;  and  thus  his  slate  saw  the  gradual  evolution  of 
many  an  invention. 


fellow,  dipt.  Cosby  Lovett,  at  Combe  Park,  near  Leighton 
Buzzard,  in  Bedfordshire. 

Some  of  his  most  enjoyable  shooting  days  were,  however, 
spent  with  another  school-fellow,  John  Stallibrass,  the 
squire  of  Eastwoodbury  and  Thorpe  Hall,  near  Rochford. 
A  part  of  Mr.  Stallibrass'  domains  extended  to  Foulness 
Island  off  the  Essex  coast.  Once  there,  the  game  was 
also  there  ;  for  the  furry  portion,  at  all  events,  couldn't 
go  to  sea,  and  the  partridges  didn't  like  to.  The  high  sea 
embankments,  grown  over  with  scrub,  formed  capital 
shooting  ground  after  the  birds  had  been  driven  to  them. 
For  lunch,  the  squire's  lessees  of  the  famous  oyster  beds 
in  the  inlets  used  to  provide  a  hamper  of  fresh  oysters  at 
one  of  the  farm-houses. 

Some  of  the  best  sport  Bright  ever  experienced  was 
when  he  took  over  the  Harleyford  shooting  from  Sir  William 
Clayton,  Bart.,  in  1874.  The  shoot  extended  from  close  to 
Great  Marlow  up  to  Medmenham,  and  a  long  way  inland  from 
the  Thames,  covering  over  2,000  acres,  with  a  large  amount 
of  woods,  coming  down  to  the  chalk  cliffs  above  the  river. 
A  number  of  pheasants  had  to  be  bred  each  year  to  keep 
up  the  supply  ;  but  of  hares,  partridges  and  "  bunnies  " 
there  were  plenty.  Sir  Charles'  rule  was  to  shoot  at  inter- 
vals with  small  parties — his  brother  and  two  or  three  other 
guns.  Those  who  came  oftenest  and  stayed  longest  were, 
perhaps,  the  late  Count  Gleichen,1  Mr.  E.  B.  Webb,  Mr. 

1  Afterwards  Admiral  H.S.H.  Prince  Victor  of  Hohenlohe- 
Langenburg,  G.C.B. — cousin  to  our  late  Queen. 


Edwin  Clark,  Mr.  Latimer  Clark  and  Mr.  Robert  Fowler.1 
The  object  was  never  a  big  battue,  but  a  varied  and  reasonable 
day's  sport. 

Sir  Charles  revisited  Marlow  and  that  part  of  the  river 
more  than  once.  He  was  always  very  popular  there,2  and 
was  at  one  time  asked  to  stand  for  the  borough.  This,  how- 
ever, he  did  not  see  his  way  to  do. 


Though,  perhaps,  the  most  important  moments  of  his 
active  life  were  spent  at  sea,  in  a  way  that  had  many  of 
the  advantages  of  yachting,  Bright  was  seldom  able 
to  revel  in  any  lengthy  cruises  solely  on  pleasure  bent. 

He,  however,  frequently  allowed  himself  a  few  days'  trip 
at  sea  after  a  manner  that  was  so  near  his  heart. 

Captain  Cosby  Lovett  was  his  usual  host  on  these  occasions. 
Captain  Lovett 's  wholesome  sea-going  yacht  Constance 
(200  tons)  was  quartered  at  Southampton  ;  and  from  here 
these  two  old  friends  would  go  out  for  a  sail  along  the 
South  Coast — and  even  further  afield — at  short  notice,  when 
Sir  Charles'  professional  engagements  permitted  of  it.  Some 
sea-fishing  also  formed  a  part  of  the  programme  as  a  rule, 
but  both  were  greatly  interested  in  all  the  intricacies  of 
yacht -sailing  for  its  own  sake  alone.  They  were,  in  fact, 
yachtsmen  in  the  strictest  sense. 

1  Mr.  Fowler  was  a  partner  in  the  firm  of  Hargrove,  Fowler  & 
Blunt,  Sir  Charles'  solicitors.     He  was  also  a  brother  of  Sir  John 
Fowler,  Bart.,  K.C.M.G.,  LL.D. 

2  Even  now,  his  portrait  may  be  seen  hanging  on  the  walls  of  the 
Complete  Angler  Hotel. 


Another  friend  with  whom  Sir  Charles  used  to  go  yachting 
occasionally  was  Mr.  J.  B.  Saunders,  of  Taunton,  with 
yachting  headquarters  at  Teignmouth.  Mr.  Saunders' 
yacht  was  the  Pixie,  and  in  her  they  had  pleasant  cruises 
to  the  Channel  Isles,  Falmouth,  the  Isle  of  Wight,  etc. 
Mr.  Saunders — a  most  genial  host — was  originally  an  old 
telegraph  acquaintance  in  the  Electric  Telegraph  Company. 
In  later  days  he  contracted  for  the  telegraph  work  of  some 
of  the  railways  in  South  Wales. 

River  Sailing. — From  early  boyhood  Bright  had  been 
devoted  to  the  river,  as  we  have  already  seen.  Thus  when 
at  Mario w  some  of  the  time  was  spent  in  sailing  as  well 
as  rowing. 

The  "  Beatrice "  Parties. — Sir  Charles'  steam  launch 
Beatrice  l — which  has  already  been  referred  to  in  the  chapter 
on  the  West  India  cables — was  for  a  time  kept  on  the  lower 
reaches  of  the  river.  She  was  occasionally  used  for  excur- 
sions up  river,  and  has  witnessed  more  than  one  Oxford  and 
Cambridge  Boat  Race,  with  a  festive  party  on  board. 

Tours  and  Picnics 

When  in  the  country  or  at  the  sea-side,  Bright  used 
sometimes  to  make  up  driving  and  riding  parties  ;  and 
when  once  staying  at  Eastbourne,  Mr.  Karl  Siemens  and  his 
charming  daughters  joined  Sir  Charles  and  his  family  in 
some  of  these. 

1  Named  after  his  youngest  daughter. 


The  most  extended  tour  in  which  he  took  part  was, 
however,  a  month's  picnic  of  an  entirely  novel  character, 
during  August,  1876.  This  charming  novelty  of  absolute 
freedom  from  work,  coupled  with  pleasurable  excitement, 
came  about  from  what  might  be  termed  an  inspiration  on 
the  part  of  an  old  friend  that  fairly  eclipsed  any  "  happy 
thought  "  that  ever  shone  in  the  luminous  pages  of  Mr. 
Punch.  It  is  especially  interesting  now,  in  view  of  the 
hold  motoring  has  since  taken  upon  us. 

The  idea  occurred  to  the  fertile  brain  of  Mr.  James  Caird, 
of  Dundee,  to  invite  some  friends  of  both  sexes  to  a  peripatetic 
picnic  in  a  special  Pullman  car  train.  The  ingredients  of 
the  party  were  like  plum  pudding — varied  but  pleasant. 
Besides  the  host,  his  wife  and  sister,  there  were  Mr.  Frederick 
Leyland,  of  steamship  renown,  with  Mrs.  Leyland,  their 
son,  and  two  daughters  ;  Captain  Herbert  Marryat — related 
to  the  famous  nautical  author — represented  the  military 
contingent  ;  then  Art  had  her  exponent  in  the  late  Mr. 
Phil  Morris,  R.A.1 ;  Music  in  Mr.  Horace  Jee  ;  while  Science 
claimed  Sir  Charles,  whose  eldest  daughter  Agnes  accom- 
panied him.  Mr.  Shenstone  Roberts,  the  genial  representa- 
tive of  Messrs.  Pullman  in  this  country,  with  his  wife,  was 
also  there.  Finally  the  party  was  completed  by  Mr. 
Edward  Bright,  who  took  upon  himself  to  preserve  some 
sort  of  account  2  of  any  interesting  incidents  during  this 
"  voyage  on  wheels  "  in  and  about  the  most  delightful 

1  For  a  short  time  also  the  late  Sir  John  Millais — a  connection 
of  Mr.  Caird's — was  one  of  the  party. 

1  This  was  afterwards  reproduced  in  the  Daily  News,  which  also 
gave  a  "  leader  "  on  the  subject. 


scenery  of  England  and  Scotland,  intermingled  with  a 
little  shooting  and  fishing. 

The  programme  was  to  start  from  London  in  a  special 
train,  with  servants,  supplies,  sleeping  quarters,  and  enter- 
taining rooms,  so  as  to  be  as  independent  of  hotels  as  the 
dwellers  in  a  caravan.  This  holiday  trip  was  to  include 
calls  upon  friends  here  and  there,  and  visits  to  a  number 
of  the  most  interesting  and  beautiful  places  in  our  island- 
staying  a  day  or  so  here  and  there,  wherever  there  proved 
to  be  the  greatest  attraction. 

It  was  understood  from  the  first  that  nobody  was  to 
enquire  too  curiously  of  their  entertainer  as  to  where 
the  expedition  was  next  going  ;  and  Mr.  Caird  so 
arranged  everything,  that  each  day's  excursion  proved 
a  pleasant  surprise  to  his  friends  during  the  month's 

The  freedom  of  promenading  throughout  the  cars — a 
distance  of  120  feet — and  the  comfort  of  all  the  appliances 
for  resting  and  amusement,  prevented  any  tedium  being 
experienced.  Between  the  cars  were  roomy  railed  plat- 
forms, upon  which  members  of  the  party  often  sat  cosily 
upon  camp  stools  for  pleasant  chats,  while  enjoying  both  the 
fresh  air  and  charming  views  passed  through — particularly 
in  Derbyshire  and  the  Highlands. 

The  saloon  was  so  full  of  windows  from  one  end  to  the 
other  that  unimpeded  views  could  be  had  of  the  scenery 
throughout,  and  through  many  districts — especially  on 
the  Highland  Railway  and  its  branches— the  train  went  at  a 
purposely  low  speed  in  order  that  the  beauties  of  the  country 

around  might  be  enjoyed  leisurely. 

F  F 


A  very  able  American  "  conductor  "  took  charge  of  the 
Pullman  cars  he  was  so  well  accustomed  to,  and  greatly 
contributed  to  the  comfort  of  the  company.  Being  a  good 
fisherman  he  now  and  again  caught  a  creel  of  trout  before 
breakfast.  Then  there  was  Sir  Charles'  old  valet,  Field,  with 
another,  and  a  ladies'  maid. 

The  Railway  Companies  proved  most  considerate,  and 
gave  special  time  bills  throughout. 

The  start  was  made  from  St.  Pancras  on  July  soth,  the 
train  proceeding  first  to  Bristol  and  Clifton  to  interview  some 
friends.  Thence  to  Bath  and  Cheltenham,  where  the 
"  waters  "  were  "  sampled." 

Next  on  to  Worcester,  where,  after  admiring  the  Cathedral 
the  party  pottered  about  the  Potteries,  and  left  for  Derby- 
shire, where  Chatsworth,  Haddon  Hall,  Matlock  and  Buxton 
were  visited. 

Onward  by  the  new  Settle  and  Carlisle  route,  through 
the  beautiful  Eden  Valley,  they  were  passed  forward  to  the 
North  British  system.  Making  a  halt  at  Melrose,  they 
visited  Abbotsford,  Dryburgh  Abbey,  and  the  tweed  factories 
at  Galashiels. 

At  Edinburgh,  they  went  to  Rosslyn  Castle  and  Abbey, 
etc.,  and  thence  their  wanderings  extended  to  the  Highlands, 
via  Perth,  after  having  the  cars  safely  ferried  over  the  Firth 
of  Forth  to  Burntisland. 

The  party  then  wended  their  way  to  the  west,  making 
some  stay  amid  the  wild  mountainous  scenery  of  Loch 
Carron,  at  Strome  Ferry  and  Plocktown.  A  flying  visit 
to  the  Isle  of  Skye  was  thought  of,  but  accommodation 
could  not  be  arranged  for  so  large  a  number.  Mr.  Caird 


had  provided  carriages  at  the  railway  siding,  so  delightful 
drives  were  made  to  Loch  Maree  and  Gairloch. 

They  next  passed  onward  to  Thurso,  where  all  is  slate 
and  paving-stone.  One  old  dame  here  passed  her  opinion 
very  audibly  on  the  platform  :  "  Hech,  eets  jeest  a  gatherin' 
o'  strollin'  players,  ye  ken  !  " 

The  train  was  then  sent  back  round  the  Wick,  while  the 
party  drove  to  John  o'  Groats  and  had  a  great  hunt  on  the 
shore  for  the  famous  "  buckle  "  shells.  The  next  move 
was  on  to  Barrogill  Castle  at  the  invitation  of  the  Earl  of 
Caithness,  who  entertained  the  party  with  much  hospitality. 
Besides  knowing  Mr.  Caird,  he  had  met  Sir  Charles  in  Cuba, 
where  the  Countess — formerly  Countess  di  Pomar — had 
large  estates.  She  believed  in  spiritualism,  and  that  she 
belonged  to  the  "  Inner  Circle  "  —  whatever  that  might 
portend.  She  once  told  Sir  Charles  of  an  interview  she 
had  one  night  with  the  wraith  of  Mary,  Queen  of  Scots, 
in  the  ruined  chapel,  when  staying  at  Holyrood  Castle. 

Returning  from  this  northernmost  part  of  the  "  Land  o' 
Cakes,"  a  pause  was  made  at  Wick  to  see  the  herring  fleet 
of  about  800  vessels  crowding  out  of  harbour  on  a  sunny 
afternoon  with  their  variously-coloured  sails — a  scene  of 
which  Mr.  Morris  made  some  interesting  sketches.  The 
next  morning  their  return  was  witnessed — laden  to  the 
gunwale  with  the  silvery  prey,  afterwards  to  be  shovelled 
out  by  stalwart  fishermen  standing  amongst  the  fish  up  to 
their  thighs. 

Once  when  the  train  was  passing  over  one  of  the  less 
frequented  lines,  some  of  the  ladies  were  initiated  into  the 
mysteries  of  stoking  and  driving  on  the  engine,  at  which 


they  proved  themselves  adepts— especially  in  whistling. 
With  regard  to  the  latter  one  of  them  afterwards  remarked  : 
"  We  pulled  away  at  all  the  handles  we  could  get  hold  of,  and 
were  not  a  bit  nervous  !  " 

The  curiosity  of  the  people  in  many  places  was  very 
great,  and  sometimes  the  crowd  at  the  railway  stations 
made  it  difficult  to  get  in  and  out.  Dinner-time  in  the 
cars  proved  an  especial  attraction  to  the  outsiders — as 
at  the  Zoo  ;  and  at  Wick  a  vast  number  of  herring-scales 
were  left  adhering  to  the  windows  as  a  reminiscence  of  the 
faces  and  ringers  of  the  admiring  multitude. 

On  the  way  south  the  expedition  pulled  up  at  Dunrobin, 
having  been  invited  by  the  Duke  of  Sutherland  to  visit 

the  Castle. 


Next  succeeded  a  visit  to  Sir  Alexander  Matheson,  Bart., 
at  his  beautiful  seat,  Ardross  Castle.  Here,  again,  the 
party  were  most  hospitably  entertained.  Near  by,  there 
were  moors  all  round  belonging  for  many  miles  to  our  host, 
who,  however,  being  somewhat  elderly,  did  not  care  to  shoot 
—while  Lady  Matheson's  principles  were  opposed  generally 
to  anything  being  killed.  These  principles  she  lived  up 
to,  for  she  did  not  eat  fish,  flesh,  or  fowl.  However,  when 
out  in  the  grounds  after  lunch,  Sir  Alexander  said  there  were 
a  couple  of  guns  and  a  brace  of  dogs  if  any  cared  for  a  pretty 
stroll  and  a  bit  of  shooting.  Sir  Charles  and  Captain 
Marryat  elected  to  go  ;  and  on  taking  leave,  Lady  Matheson 
characteristically  wished  them  a  "  very  pleasant  walk- 
but  '  long  life'  to  the  grouse!" 

A  different  route  was  chosen  for  the  return  of  the  Pullman 


expedition  ;  and  Lochs  Lomond,  Long,  and  Fyne  were 
successively  visited  by  using  the  steamers  from  Balloch 
and  Helensburgh. 

The  party  finally  made  their  way  to  London,  via  Glasgow 
and  Dumfries. 

On  the  lines  in  the  North  of  Scotland  it  was  found  that 
the  cars  were  too  lofty  to  pass  under  the  bridges,  but  some 
navvies  who  were  sent  forward — accompanied  by  Sir 
Charles  and  the  assistant  engineer  of  the  railway — obviated 
the  difficulty  by  scraping  away  the  ballast  from  under 
the  sleepers,  and  so  lowering  the  permanent  way  a  few 
inches  where  necessary.  One  of  the  bridges  proved,  how- 
ever, such  a  close  shave  that  it  cut  off  the  tops  of  some 
of  the  ventilators. 

At  several  points  the  party  were  taken  for  Americans, 
the  tune  of  "  Yankee  Doodle "  being  expressly  played 
for  their  benefit  by  a  band  at  one  station,  while  at  Buxton 
a  flower  girl,  on  getting  but  a  shake  of  the  head  when 
proffering  her  bunches,  remarked  :  "  It's  no  use  talking 
to  them  ;  they'ar  Americans,  and  don't  speak  English  !  " 
At  Edinburgh  a  gudewife's  verdict  upon  one  of  the  cars  was, 
"  Weel,  it's  just  a  gingerbread-looking  thing  !  " 

The  weather  was  fine  throughout,  and  no  hitch  whatever 
occurred  to  mar  the  trip. 

A  delicious  sensation  of  comfort  and  freedom  was  ex- 
perienced on  reaching  each  fresh  halting-place  from  the 
fact  that  no  baggage  had  to  be  removed  from  the  cars. 
Moreover,  all  were  utterly  independent  of  the  thousand  and 
one  troubles  connected,  with  hotel  accommodation— carry- 
ing their  rooms,  servants  and  provisions  with  them.  There 


was  also  the  feeling  of  thorough  privacy  which  could  never 
have  been  obtained  for  so  many  at  the  inns  on  the  way. 
Practically  such  a  party  could  not  have  travelled  throughout 
the  country  from  the  West  of  England  to  John  o'  Groats 
by  any  other  means  ;  as  at  many  of  the  most  interesting 
localities  where  a  stay  was  made,  beds  and  sometimes  pro- 
visions for  such  a  number — eighteen  all  told — would  not  have 
been  procurable.  The  idea  of  "  home  "  in  connection  with 
the  cars  grew  stronger  every  day  of  the  journey  ;  and  on 
returning  after  drives,  walks,  rowing  or  fishing  expeditions 
to  the  railway  siding — where  their  travelling  houses  were 
temporarily  bestowed — every  one  felt  as  if  going  to  a  most 
pleasant  rendezvous. 

The  company  started  out  for  a  fortnight's  trip  ;  but  it 
was  at  once  so  novel  and  so  delightful  that  it  was  extended 
to  a  month,  and  terminated  to  the  regret  of  all  concerned. 
It  constituted  a  kind  of  yachting  voyage  on  land,  with- 
out the  accompaniment  of  baffling  winds  or  topsy-turvy 

Club  Reminiscences 

Sir  Charles  was  an  eminently  "  clubable  "  man — full  of 
varied  information,  an  accomplished  raconteur,  and  always 
most  genial.  He  was  a  member  of  the  Reform  Club,  where 
he  frequently  enjoyed  a  game  of  billiards  with  his  namesake, 
the  late  Right  Hon.  John  Bright,  and  other  friends.  He  also 
belonged  to  the  Garrick,  Whitehall,  and  Royal  Thames 
Yacht  Clubs.  This  last  was  his  favourite  resort  for 
lunch  and  in  the  evening.  Here  he  sat  down  to  many  a 


pleasant  supper  with  professional  friends,  after  meetings 
of  the  various  Societies  and  Institutions  to  which  he  be- 

His  taste  for  yachting  had  something  to  do  with  this 
preference  for  the  club  in  Albemarle  Street.  For  a  number 
of  years  he  was  on  the  Council  and  Committee,  whilst  his 
brother  acted  as  auditor. 

Sir  Charles  seldom  missed  the  annual  Thames  Yacht 
Races.  On  these  occasions  he  used  to  make  up  a  party 
for  the  Club  steamer. 

When  once  Bright  took  to  any  one  he  stuck  to  him ; 
and  his  most  frequent  guests  at  the  Races  were,  perhaps, 
the  late  Count  Gleichen  (Prince  Victor  of  Hohenlohe-Langen- 
burg),  Baron  Gudin,  Messrs.  E.  B.  Webb,  Rudolph  Glover 
of  the  War  Office,  Charles  Dibdin  of  the  Admiralty,  W.  H. 
Preece,  and  George  Forbes — beside  various  wives,  sisters, 
and  daughters  of  these  and  others. 

The  Thames  Yacht  Club  was  always  an  eminently  sociable 
resort — a  large  proportion  of  the  members  knowing  one 
another  in  yachting  circles. 

In  1875,  Count  Gleichen  executed  a  marble  bust  of  his 
friend.  This  proved  a  capital  likeness,  beside  being  a 
most  artistic  piece  of  work,  as  may  be  seen  from  the  repro- 
duction here  given.  It  was  duly  exhibited  in  the  Royal 
Academy  of  that  year  and  was  much  admired  as  a  faithful 
and  life-like  portrait.  Plaster  duplicates  were  made  ;  one 
of  these  was  presented  to  the  Institution  of  Civil  Engineers, 
whilst  another  is  in  the  library  of  the  Institution  of  Electrical 

Executed  by  Prince  Victor  of  Hohenlohe-Langenburg 



Death   and    Funeral 

Slowly,  slowly  up  the  wall 
Steals  the  sunshine,  steals  the  shade  ; 
Evening  damps  begin  to  fall, 
Evening  shadows  are  displayed. 
Darker,  darker  and  more  wan 
In  my  breast  the  shadows  fall  ; 
Upward  steals  the  life  of  man, 
As  the  sunshine  from  the  wall, 
From  the  wall  into  the  sky, 
From  the  roof  along  the  spire  ; 
Ah,  the  souls  of  those  that  die 
Are  but  sunbeams  lifted  higher  ! 


OIR  CHARLES  never  really  got  over  the  severe  attack 
^  of  malarious  fever,  to  which  he  nearly  succumbed 
when  laying  the  West  India  Cables  ;  and  which  were  recur- 
rent every  now  and  then  long  after  his  return  to  England. 

He  had  been  in  failing  health  for  some  time.  This  was 
largely  owing  to  various  worries  and  the  need  of  an  entire 
rest  from  work.1 

His    comparatively    sudden    death     occurred    at     early 

1  Edison  is  said  to  have  told  a  friend  :  "  Don't  worry,  but  work 
hard,  and  you  can  look  forward  to  a  reasonably  lengthy  existence." 
Sir  Charles,  unfortunately,  had  to  worry  as  well  as  work. 




morn  on  Thursday,  May  3rd,  1888,  from  failure  of  the  heart, 
while  on  a  visit  to  his  brother,  near  Abbey  Wood,  in  Kent. 
The  obituary  notices  and  leading  articles  in  the  various 
newspapers  which  appeared  on  this  occasion  with  regard 
to  Sir  Charles,  were  given  in  the  last  Appendix  of  the  original 
biography,  as  well  as  the  references  to  his  funeral  from  The 
Times,  Morning  Post,  Pall  Mall  Gazette,  St.  James'  Gazette, 
Globe,  etc.1  The  technical  press,  however,  naturally  pro- 
vided the  most  detailed  particulars  ;  and  the  concluding 
words  of  the  Electrical  Review  obituary  notice  of  May  nth, 
1888,  may  be  suitably  quoted  here  :— 

We  have  endeavoured  to  give  a  summary  of  the  life  of  the 
late  Sir  Charles  Bright — a  life  spent  from  its  early  beginning 
with  the  creation  of  the  electric  telegraph — pointing  out  some 
of  the  important  works  he  was  engaged  in,  some  of  the  improve- 
ments he  had  introduced  and  originated,  and  showing  at  the 
same  time  the  type  and  character  of  the  man,  who  could  so 
readily  and  easily  devise,  undertake,  and  carry  out  such  works. 

He  leaves  behind  him  many  of  his  old  friends  and  fellow-workers 
to  grieve  and  mourn  his  loss,  but  he  also  leaves  behind  a  monu- 
ment of  lasting  fame.  The  works  he  has  accomplished  bear 
evidence  for  all  time  of  his  skilful  handiwork,  his  intuitive  know- 
ledge and  unerring  judgment  ;  and  as  the  great  fabric  of  the 
modern  telegraph  system  rises  and  spreads  throughout  the 
world,  its  foundations  and  superstructure  bear  evidence  of  the 
vital  part  played  by  Sir  Charles  Bright  in  their  construction  and 
formation.  We  may,  indeed,  safely  assume  that  so  long  as 
the  broad  Atlantic,  separated  by  its  broad  expanse  of  water 

1  The  week  after  his  death,  the  Illustrated  London  News,  Graphic, 
The  Engineer,  and  other  journals  also  contained  good  portraits  of 
Sir  Charles. 


from  this  country,  carries  at  its  utmost  depths  the  electric  con- 
necting chain  of  communication,  so  long  will  the  name  of  the 
Atlantic  and  its  first  cable  be  connected  with  that  of  Charles 
Tilston  Bright. 

The  funeral  took  place  on  the  following  Monday  (May  7th) . 
To  quote  further  from  the  Electrical  Review  with  reference 
to  this  :— 

The  service  was  conducted  at  St.  Cuthbert's,  Philbeach 
Gardens  (opposite  Sir  Charles'  residence),  South  Kensington, 
and  the  burial  in  Chiswick  churchyard,  where  the  family  vault 
was  situated,1  and  near  which  the  family  used  to  live. 

Besides  the  relatives  of  the  deceased,  a  large  and  distinguished 
gathering  of  friends  attended  to  pay  their  last  tribute  of  esteem 
and  affection — though  no  one  was  actually  bidden.2  Among 
those  present  were  :  His  Serene  Highness  Prince  Victor  of 
Hohenlohe-Langenburg,  G.C.B.  ;  Sir  Francis  Burdett,  Bart.  ; 
Sir  David  Salomons,  Bart.,  nephew  of  the  late  Sir  D.  Salomons, 
who  sat  with  Sir  Charles  as  member  for  Greenwich  for  several 
years  ;  Sir  Robert  Jardine,  Bart,  M.P.  ;  Sir  F.  Goldsmid,  K.C.S.I., 
C.B.  ;  Mr.  William  Lindsay  and  Lady  Harriet  Lindsay;  Lady 
Smart  ;  Mr.  Phil  Morris,  R.A.  ;  Mr.  Linley  Sambourne,  of 
Punch  ;  Sir  William  Thomson,  LL.D.,  F.R.S.,3  Sir  Samuel 
Canning,  M.Inst.C.E.,  and  Mr.  Henry  Clifford— the  last  three 
his  fellow-shipmates  and  pioneers  on  H.M.S.  Agamemnon  in  the 
first  Atlantic  cable  expedition. 

1  Here  his  wife's  mother  had  been  buried  in  1871,  and  again,  his 
wife's  brother  was  interred  here  in  1884.     For  both  of   these,  who 
had  predeceased  him,    Sir  Charles  had  always  a    strong    affection, 
and  the  latter— Robert  John  Taylor— had  probably  been  his   best 
friend  through  life. 

2  The  only  intimation  of  the  funeral  was  given  through  the  news- 

3  Afterwards  Lord  Kelvin,  O.M.,  G.C.V.O. 


Amongst  his  professional  friends  were  also  Mr.  Latimer  Clark, 
F.R.S.,  M.Inst.C.E.,  for  several  years  his  partner  ;  from  the 
Post  Office,  Mr.  E.  Graves,  and  Mr.  W.  H.  Preece,  F.R.S., 
M.Inst.  C.E.,1  associated  with  him  from  the  days  of  early  tele- 
graphy, Prof.  D.  E.  Hughes,  F.R.S.  (a  fellow  Government 
Commissioner  with  Sir  Charles  at  the  Paris  Exhibition)  ;  Mr.  F.  C. 
Webb,  M.Inst.C.E.  (for  some  time  on  his  staff)  ;  Mr.  H.  C. 
Forde,  M.Inst.C.E.  (a  previous  partner);  Mr.  John  Muirhead, 
M.  Inst.C.E.  ;  Mr.  F.  H.  Webb,  Mr.  R.  Collett,  and  Mr.  E.  Stalli- 
brass.  Amongst  those  who  were  out  on  Sir  Charles'  last  and 
most  trying  cable  expeditions  in  the  West  Indies  of  1869-72 
were  Mr.  R.  Kaye  Gray,  M.Inst.C.E.,  Mr.  E.  March  Webb,  Mr. 
H.  Benest,  and  Mr.  James  Stoddart — all  of  the  Silvertown 

The  Council  of  the  Society  of  Telegraph  Engineers  (of  which 
Sir  Charles  was  last  year  President  for  the  Telegraph  Jubilee) 
were  present,  and  the  Royal  Astronomical,  Geological,  and 
Geographical  Societies  had  sent  officials  to  represent  them. 

The  Institution  of  Civil  Engineers  was  represented  by  its 
Secretary,  Mr.  James  Forrest,  who  was  also  a  personal  friend 
of  Sir  Charles.  To  all  of  these  bodies  Sir  Charles  belonged  very 
early  in  life. 

Most  of  his  pupils,  past  and  present,  were  also  there,  and 
amongst  the  many  wreaths  one  was  placed  on  the  coffin  by  them. 
Some  of  Sir  Charles'  old  mechanics  and  servants  in  his  different 
undertakings  also  attended. 

Though  choral,  neither  service  was  of  an  elaborate  char- 
acter. At  St.  Cuthbert's,  the  hymn  selected  for  singing 
was  "  Rock  of  Ages  "  (a  favourite  hymn),  whilst  at  the  grave 
it  was  "  Now  the  labourer's  task  is  o'er/' 

On  the  churchyard  being  reached,  the  funeral  service  was 
read  by  the  Vicar  of  Chiswick,  the  Rev.  Lawford  Dale,  M.A. 

1  Now  Sir  William  Preece,   K.C.B. 


— an  old  schoolfellow  of  Sir  Charles',  who  had  rowed  in  the 
same  "  eight  "  with  him. 

The  inscription  on  the  coffin  was  merely  :— 

Cbarles  Gileton  Bright 

Born,  June  8tb,  1832 
,  1888 



IN  attempting  to  summarise  Sir  Charles  Bright's  careei 
in  the  course  of  a  few  concluding  words,  the  question 
at  once  presents  itself  whether  to  characterise  him  as  a 
great  inventor,  as  an  eminent  engineer,  or  as  a  man  of 
affairs.  He  was  prominent  in  each  of  these  respects — a 
rare  combination  in  any  single  individual. 

His  numerous  arid  largely  used  inventions  have  been 
briefly  dealt  with  here.1  Throughout  life  a  note-book  was 
in  his  pocket,  in  which — almost  daily — he  sketched  ideas 
forming  the  embryos  of  many  inventions.2  In  telegraphic 
and  submarine  cable  work — of  which  he  has  been  rightly 
characterised  as  the  pioneer — these  are  still  indispensable  ; 
for  without  them  long  cables  could  scarcely  be  laid  or  worked 
—even  at  the  present  time.  In  electric  lighting,  again,  he 
helped — as  we  have  seen — to  point  the  way,  besides  devising 
several  important  improvements.  Telephony  also  owes 
something  to  him.  Electric  traction  was  not  sufficiently 
within  the  realm  of  practical  progress  at  that  time  for  Sir 
Charles  to  turn  his  attention  to  it  ;  but  this  was  the  only 
branch  of  electrical  engineering  and  applied  science  to  which 
he  had  not  devoted  his  energies  at  one  time  or  another. 

1  They  are  all  dealt  witli  further  in  the  Appendix. 

2  Q  uite  a  collection  of  these  small  note-books  have  been  preserved . 



In  everything  he  undertook  there  were  the  same  charac- 
teristics evinced  of  profound  practical  thought  in  the  initia- 
tion of  each  enterprise,  coupled  with  untiring  energy  and 
dauntless  pluck  in  carrying  them  to  a  successful  issue. 

Besides  these  qualities,  he  was  always  courteous  and  genial 
in  his  bearing  towards  his  staff  and  those  with  whom  he 
had  to  deal. 

As  we  have  seen,  Bright's  life  was  a  life  fraught  through- 
out with  danger  and  anxiety.  In  his  various  undertakings 
he  was  calm  under  adversity,  brave  in  emergencies  that 
would  have  caused  many  to  quail.  Greater  force  of  charac- 
ter is  perhaps  required  by  a  submarine  telegraph  engineer 
than  by  any  other  engineer  whose  work  is  practically  done 
when  the  designs  are  made,  whereas  the  greater  part  of  a 
telegraph  engineer's  difficulties  occur  in  the  laying  and 
repairing  of  the  line,  and  in  unforeseen  mishaps  which  are 
always  liable  to  take  place.  Heavy  weather,  or  a  moment's 
error  of  judgment,  have  repeatedly  ruined  the  whole  work 
of  an  expedition. 

We  will  not  prolong  this  summary  by  dwelling  on  his 
political  and  other  services,  but  will  conclude  by  quoting 
from  the  closing  observations  in  a  biographical  sketch  of 
Sir  Charles,  which  appeared  in  the  Electrical  Engineer.  The 
sentence  runs  thus  : — 

It  will  be  seen  that  the  work  of  Sir  Charles  Bright  has  been 
of  a  wide  and  varied  character — both  in  land  and  submarine 
telegraphy — dating  from  the  earliest  days  of  the  electric  wire. 
Indeed,  he  may  be  said  to  have  been  a  leader  in  the  rise  and 
progress  of  electrical  industry. 


The  same  article  went  on  to  say  :— 

There  are  some  men  whose  talents  impress  us  more  than  any 
other  of  their  merits,  and  stand  out  gaunt  and  bare  like  some  pro- 
jecting cliff  with  nothing  gentle  to  relieve  the  eye  or  mask  the 
height.  There  are  others  in  whom  a  keen  intellect  is  sometimes 
veiled  by  geniality  of  manner,  just  as  a  rocky  hillside  may  be  over- 
hung with  verdure.  It  is  to  this  category  that  Sir  Charles  Bright 
belongs  ;  and  though  his  past  services  may  well  command  our 
admiration,  the  better  part  of  our  praise  is  that  those  who  have 
had  the  pleasure  of  his  acquaintance,  love  rather  to  remember 
the  kind  and  sociable  qualities  of  the  man  than  the  successes  of 
the  engineer.  His  attractive  ways  and  well-known  figure  will 
be  missed  by  many  for  some  time  to  come. 

Though,  for  a  professional  man,  Sir  Charles  did  well 
pecuniarily  at  times,  he  died  poor. 

May  it  not  be  said  that  whether  a  man  ends  well  provided 
with  this  world's  goods  or  otherwise  is  largely  a  matter  of 
luck — quite  irrespective  of  genius,  which  is,  of  course,  on  the 
other  hand,  inborn.  Apart  from  luck,  however,  there  was 
a  trait  in  Bright's  character  which  would  naturally  conflict 
with  his  amassing  a  fortune — and  adhering  to  it.  That 
trait  was  the  taste  for  converting  money  into  things  which 
gave  himself  and  his  friends  immediate  pleasure  :  it  may 
be  summed  up  by  the  words  hospitality  and  generosity. 

Furthermore,  he  seemed  throughout  to  bear  in  mind  that 

Life  is  mostly  froth  and  bubble, 

Two  things  stand  alone  : 
Kindness  in  another's  trouble, 

Courage  in  our  own. 

Appendix  l 


SHORTLY  after  their  introduction  to  Electric  Telegraphs  in  1847, 
Charles  Bright  and  his  brother  Edward — when  young  fellows 
of  seventeen  and  eighteen — began  to  discuss  weak  points  in  the 
existing  apparatus,  and  to  work  out  improvements.  But  in  those 
days  a  patent  was  an  expensive  luxury,  for  what  with  Mr. 
"Deputy  Chaff  Wax  " — who  put  the  great  seal  on,  eighteen  inches 
round,  and  over  an  inch  thick — and  the  heavy  fees,  stamps,  etc., 
coupled  with  the  high  charges  of  the  patent  agents  for  legal  verbi- 
age and  technical  drawings,  the  cost  mounted  up  to  about  £200 
down.  There  was  then  no  distribution  of  fees  over  many  years, 
as  at  present.  But — and  this  is  an  important  "  but  " — a  large 
number  of  separate  inventions  and  improvements  relating  to 
the  same  general  subject,  might  at  that  period,  be  comprised 
and  protected  in  a  single  patent. 

So  the  brothers  continued  piling  up  their  ideas  by  sketches 
and  descriptions  in  a  locked  "  Inventions  Book  "  till  1852,  when 
they  saw  their  way  to  taking  out  their  first  patent.  This  patent 
(E.  B.  and  C.  T.  Bright,  No.  14,331 ,  of  October  2ist,  1852)  embraced 
no  less  than  twenty-four  distinct  inventions,  illustrated  by 
twenty-eight  drawings,  as  described  in  fifteen  specification  pages. 
It  became  an  historical  one  ;  and  it  may  fairly  be  said  that  few 
patents  have  contained  so  much  variety,  and  so  many  novelties. 
The  greater  part  came  into  active  use,  and  a  considerable  pro- 
portion are  still  employed  as  the  most  satisfactory  apparatus 
for  the  purposes  for  which  they  were  designed. 

More  than  thirty  years  afterwards  (July  2nd,  1883),  the  Electrical 

1  Inasmuch  as  the  inventions  of  the  subject  of  this  memoir  have 
only  been  referred  to  in  part— and  then  but  briefly— in  the  body 
of  the  book,  it  has  been  thought  well  to  deal  with  them  here  in 
further  detail,  whilst  giving  illustrations  and  descriptions  of  those 
which  have  not  formed  part  of  the  main  narrative. 

449  GG 


Engineer  thus  described  some  of  the  principal  inventions  embodied 
in  this  patent  of  1852  :— 

1.  The  system  of  testing  insulated  conductors  to  localise  faults 
from  a  distant  point,  by  means  of  standard  resistance  coils  in  series 
of  different  values,  brought  into  circuit  successively  by  turning  a 
connecting  handle.     A  drawing  in  the  patent  specification  repre- 
sents the  best  forms  of  resistance  coil  arrangement  at  present  used 
in  testing  land  and  submarine  telegraphs. 

2.  In    dividing    coils    into    compartments,    and    in    winding    the 
wire  so  as  to  fill  each  compartment  successively,  and  thus  gain  a 
greater  determination  of  polarity.     This  system  of  winding  coils 
was  afterwards  suggested  in  1854  by  Herr  Poggendorf,  subsequently 
by  Herr  Stohrer,  of  Leipsig,  as  well  as  by  M.  Foucault,  and  again 
by  M.   Ruhmkorff,   vide  Du  Moncel's   Applications  de   I'Electricite, 
vol.  ii.  pp.  241-243. 

3.  The  employment  of  a  moveable  coil  pivoted  on  an  axis,  actu- 
ated by  a  fixed  coil  outside  it.     The  one  reacting  upon  the  other, 
the  same  electrical  current  traverses  both,  for  obtaining  unvarying 
standards  of  power.     This  invention  is  similar  to  that  now  being 
brought  forward  by  others  as  a  novelty  for  electric  lighting  pur- 
poses.    A  differential  method  of  testing  with  a  standard  galvano- 
meter also  foreshadowed  the  differential  galvanometer. 

4.  The  double  roof  shackle  generally  used  at  the  present  time 
for   leading    in   wires    over   house    telegraphs,    telephones,    electric 
light  wires,  and  whenever  great  strains  are  involved  by  long  spans. 
This  was  further  improved  in  a  patent  of  Sir  C.  Bright,  No.  2601  of 
A.D.  1858.     See  also  The  Electric  Telegraph,  by  Lardner  and  Bright. 

5.  The  now  universal  system   of  telegraph  posts  with   varying 
lengths  of  arms,  to  avoid  the  chance  of  one  wire  dropping  on  another. 

6.  The    partial-vacuum    lightning    protector    for    guarding    tele- 
graphic lines  and  apparatus.     This  has  since  been  re-patented  in 
various  forms. 

7.  A    translator,    or    repeater,  for    relaying    and    re-transmitting 
electric  currents  of  either  kind  in  both  directions  on  a  single  wire. 
This   contrivance   was   used   with   great   success   by   the   Magnetic 
Telegraph  Company,  up  to  their  purchase  by  Government  in  1870, 
and  was  the  first  device  of  the  kind  in  any  country. 

8.  The  employment  of  a  metallic  riband  for  the  protection  of 
the   insulated   conductors   of   submarine,    or   subterranean,    cables. 
This   also   has   been   recently  re-invented    and    re-patented,  and    is 
found  to  be  the  best  protection  for  the  insulator,   either  on  the 
sea  bottom  or  underground. 

9.  Another  improvement  was  the  production,   in  an  automatic 
key,  of  a  varying  contact  proportionate  to  the    pressure    exerted 
upon  it,  for  adjusting  the  time  length  of  change  in  testing  or  signal- 


ling.     This  was  by  means  of  mercury — on  the  same  principle  as 
a  sand-glass. 

Besides  these,  a  new  type  printing  instrument,  a  novel  motfe 
of  laying  underground  wires  in  troughs,  and  other  telegraphic 
improvements,  were  included  in  this  early  patent  of  the  Brights. 

In  addition  to  the  appliances  referred  to  above,  the  first  form 
of  curb  key — for  working  long  cables — is  given  in  this  patent. 
Spring  catches  are  made  to  slip  over  a  cog  of  their  respective 
catches  and  wheels  by  the  movement  of  a  key,  lever,  or  handle. 
Alternate  currents  may  thus  be  sent.  When  the  apparatus  is 
at  rest,  the  sending  coils  are  put  on  short  circuit,  and  the  line 
wire  connected  to  earth. 

Again,  another  form  of  lightning  protector  here  described, 
consists  of  two  "  condensers  "  in  juxtaposition  and  garnished 
with  points,  and  a  third  of  fine  wire  brushes. 

Let  us  now  consider  "  No.  i  "  in  the  above  digest  of  the 
Electrical  Engineer — the  system  of  localising  faults.  This 
apparatus  is  still  in  constant  use — fifty-six  years  afterwards. 
The  Electrical  Review — in  its  cbituary  notice  of  Sir  Charles 
— characterises  it  as  "a  special  system  for  testing  insulated 
conductors,  with  the  object  of  localising  the  distance  of  an  earth, 
or  contact  from  a  station,  by  the  use  of  a  series  of  resistance  coils 
mounted  in  a  box.  This  is  the  first  mention  of  resistance  coils 
specially  constructed  of  different  values  to  be  met  with,  and  the 
credit  of  being  the  first  to  use  this  system  of  testing  rests  entirely 
with  the  late  Sir  Charles  Bright."  l  The  obituary  notice  of  the 
Institution  of  Civil  Engineers  also  speaks  of  the  invention  in  a 
similar  strain. 

The  preceding  was,  it  will  be  seen,  a  purely  telegraphic  patent. 
The  brothers,  however,  also  devised,  between  1849  and  1851  :— 

i  .  Feathering  floats  for  paddle  wheels  ;  also  a  feathering   screw. 

2.  Agricultural    ploughs    for    mechanically    shifting    the    lower 
half  of  the  soil  penetrated  at  the  top. 

3.  An  improved  lightning  conductor  for  buildings. 

These    were    described    and    illustrated   in    the    Mechanics' 

Magazine  at  the  time. 

1  Electrical  Review,  vol.  xxii.  pp.  508-512. 


1  The  next  patent  was  dated  September  1 7th,  1855,  No.  2103, 
C.  T.  and  E.  B.  Bright.  It  embraces  seventeen  further  inven- 
tions, illustrated  by  eighteen  figures  described  in  thirteen  pages 
of  text.  This  joint  patent  of  the  Brights  in  1855  is  thus  referred 
to  in  the  Electrical  Engineer  of  July  2nd,  1883  :— 

"  Up  till  the  year  1854  the  system  of  telegraphing  by  the 
movements  right  and  left  of  a  magnetic  needle  or  needles  was 
generally  employed,  and  as  the  receiving  operator  had  to  watch 
the  movements  with  his  eyes,  he  had  to  dictate  to  an  amanuensis 
seated  by  him.  Apart  from  the  cost  of  the  second  clerk,  many 
errors  arose  from  words— of  like  sound,  but  unlike  spelling  and 
meaning — being  misunderstood  by  the  writer,  besides  the  strain 
on  the  eyes  of  the  operator,  which  became  fatigued,  and  thus 
added  to  the  number  of  errors.  To  meet  these  objections,  Sir 
Charles  devised  an  acoustic  telegraph  (still  very  extensively 
used),  giving  a  short  and  separate  sound  to  the  right  or  left  of 
the  receiving  operator,  corresponding  to  the  movements  of  the 

"This  system  was  rapidly  extended  over  the'  Magnetic  '  lines, 
and  resulted  in  a  large  saving  of  staff — as  the  writing  clerks 
were  dispensed  with — and  also  in  far  greater  accuracy,  besides 
being  the  speediest  apparatus  of  the  non-recording  class.  It 
was  later  on  successfully  adopted  by  Sir  Charles  for  working 
each  cable  between  the  various  West  Indian  Islands. 

"  Professor  Morse,  in  his  report  on  the  French  International 
Exhibition  of  1867,  notes  the  fact  that '  this  Bright's  Bell  System 
is  the  fastest  manual  telegraph.'  The  above  apparatus  has  ever 
since  been  universally  known  as  '  Bright's  Bells.'  It  consists 
of  three  distinct  parts,  which  were  described  in  the  Electrical 
Review  of  May  nth,  1888,  as  follows  :— 

1.  The  apparatus  for,  and  method  of,  transmitting  signals. 

2.  The  receiving  relay,   which  has  the  means  of  increasing  its 
sensitiveness,  and  of  protection  from  the  effects  of  return  currents. 

3.  The  '  Phonetic,'  a   sounding   apparatus.     This   may  be  either 
used  as  a  complete  instrument,  or  applied  in  part  to  other  tele- 
graph  instruments   now   in   use.     The   magnet,  when    acted    upon 
by  electro-magnetic  coils,  causes  the  axle  to  vibrate  or  deflect  in 
one  direction,  thus  sounding  a  bell  by  means  of  a  hammer  head 
on  one  arm,  the  subsequent  reversal  of  the  electric  current  causing 
a  muffler  on  the  other  arm  to  stop  the  sound." 

1  Minutes   of  Proceedings   of   the   Institution   of   Civil  Engineers, 
vol.  xciii. 


This  patent  also  included  a  very  simple  and  effective  method 
of 'duplex  working — almost  the  very  first — which  was  used  success- 
fully on  some  of  the  Magnetic  Company's  wires,  enabling  signals 
in  opposite  directions  to  be  made  simultaneously.1  It  also 
covered  the  means  for  producing  working  currents  from  inducti'on 
coils,  and  a  machine  for  producing  continuous  currents  from 
secondary  induction  coils  by  the  action  of  a  quantity  battery  in 
the  primary  coils. 

As  expressed  in  the  obituary  notice  of  the  Institution  of  Civil 
Engineers  : — 

"  It  will  be  seen  from  an  examination  of  these  two  early  patents 
what  a  large  practical  and  scientific  field  Charles  Bright  covered 
as  the  result  of  his  experience  and  intuitive  knowledge — in  addi- 
tion to  his  experimental  investigation  and  foresight  in  the  require- 
ments of  telegraphic  science.  We  might  enter  more  fully  into 
the  details  of  these  various  inventions,  but  sufficient  evidence 
has  already  been  given  of  his  wonderful  insight  into  the  mysteries 
of  the  profession  in  which  he  played  so  large  a  part."  2 

It  is  to  be  regretted  that  the  specifications  of  these  two  patents 
are  now  out  of  print,  for  they  are,  perhaps,  especially  of  interest, 
on  account  of  the  youth  of  the  inventors  at  the  time — as  well 
as  owing  to  the  extensive  use  of  the  inventions  they  refer  to. 

Charles  Bright  next  patented  a  series  of  improvements  in 
apparatus  for  laying  submarine  cables  (undej  date  April  8th, 
1857,  No.  990),  after  becoming  chief  engineer  to  the  Atlantic 
Telegraph  Company  at  the  age  of  twenty -four.  It  covered  six 
separate  inventions.  In  this  patent,  young  Bright  described 
the  first  cable  dynamometer.  He  says  :— 

I  cause  the  strain  which  the  length  of  cable  hanging  ...  be- 
tween the  stern  of  the  vessel  and  the  bottom  of  the  sea  ...  to 
be  measured  and  indicated.  .  .  . 

One  method  .  .  .  consists  in  placing  the  axle  of  the  stern  wheel 
in  bearings  held  back  by  springs — which  may  be  made  to  assume 

1  See  Submarine  Telegraphs,  by  Charles  Bright,  F.R.S.E.  (Crosby, 
Lockwood  &  Son,   1898). 

2  Inst.   C.E.  Proc.,  vol.  xciii. 


an  angle  in  a  line  with  the  direction  of  the  cable.  Or  I  measure 
the  tension  of  the  cable  by  lateral  pressure,  or  water  or  atmospheric 
pressure,  and  other  suitable  means  may  be  adapted  to  the  same 

The  strain  is  indicated  on  a  dial.  The  whole  can  be  so  constructed, 
that  should  the  strain  amount  to  more  than  it  is  considered  safe  to 
permit,  a  SELF-ACTING  management  slackens  or  RELEASES  the  brakes 
or  other  restraining  agents  of  the  machinery. 

Afterwards  the  full  specification  says  :— 

The  first  part  of  my  invention  consists  in  measuring  and  indica- 
ting the  strain.  .  .  .  The  machinery  .  .  .  becomes  a  compen- 
sating regulator  .  .  .  and  consists  in  causing  the  strain  when  it 
has  reached  its  "safety  point"  to  act  upon  and  release  a  brake, 
strap,  or  other  retarding  agent.  When  being  so  released,  the  cable 
will  be  free  to  run  faster  over  the  paying-out  apparatus,  and  thereby 
prevent  fracture. 

It  is  a  pity  that  time  (owing  to  the  way  Bright  was  hurried 
in  order  that  the  expedition  should  start  in  1857)  did  not  permit 
this  ingenious  apparatus  to  be  then  applied.  The  following 
year,  however,  a  vertical  dynamometer  was  adopted  for  the 
laying  of  the  1858  cable  ;  and  in  this  the  principle  of  the  above 
invention  was  largely  worked  on. 

Here,  also,  was  described  and  illustrated  an  automatic  machine 
for  the  regular  coiling  and  uncoiling  of  the  cable  in  the  holding 
vessel.  This,  though  never  brought  into  use,  might  very  suitably 
under  certain  circumstances  be  adopted — to  the  great  saving  of 
cable  hands,  and  of  trouble.  In  these  days  of  strikes  it  might 
be  well  if  such  an  apparatus  were  always  at  hand — and  in  full 
view  of  the  British  workman  ! 

The  paying-out  apparatus  in  this  patent  consisted  of  sheaves, 
"  the  grooves  of  which  are  so  adapted  to  the  figure  and  dimen- 
sions of  the  rope,  as  to  grasp  it  firmly,  at  the  same  time  that  they 
preserve  its  conformation." 

Had  this  plan  been  more  generally  adopted,  it  would  have 
saved  many  an  open-sheathed  cable  of  early  days  from  being 
put  out  of  shape  by  the  pressure  on  the  flat  surface  of  the  crdinary 

Another  useful  appliance  was  first  set  forth  in  the  same  specifi- 
cation as  follows  :— 

To  ascertain  at  all  times  the  rate  at  which  the  vessel  is  going,  I 
register  its  speed  on  deck  by  the  rotations  of  a  vane  submerged 
in  the  sea  (in  the  manner  usual  with  what  is  known  as  the  patent 
log)  being  electrically  communicated  through  a  wire,  or  wires, 


contained  in  the  cord  by  which  the  vane  is  sustained  to  an  indica- 
ting instrument  on  deck  ;  and  I  show  the  rate  of  the  cable  upon 
a  dial  by  toothed  wheels  acting  upon  the  axle  of  one  of  the  sheaves 
on  the  stern  wheel.  The  total  distance  passed  over  by  the  vessel, 
and  the  total  lengths  of  cable  delivered  into  the  sea,  are  also  indicated 
by  these  registers. 

This  ingenious  arrangement  was  particularly  referred  to  in 
the  descriptive  pamphlet  issued  by  the  Atlantic  directors  in 
1857  1 ;  and  was  used  on  the  ships  of  that  year's  expedition,  as 
well  as  on  the  successful  one  of  1858. 

A  month  later,  he  followed  this  up  by  taking  out  a  further 
patent  for  some  improvements  in  the  paying-out  machine,  with 
Mr.  Charles  de  Bergue,  an  engineer  and  "  machinist  "  of  London 
and  Manchester.  This  patent  was  dated  May  7th,  1857,  No.  1294. 
The  variation  from  the  previous  patent  was  mainly  directed 
to  the  arrangement  of  the  paying-out  sheaves  and  their  gearing 
on  to  a  friction  brake,  regulated  by  hand  from  the  indications 
of  strain,  as  shown  by  levers  connected  to  a  Salter's  balance. 
The  paying-out  machine  used  on  the  Atlantic  expedition  of  1857 
was  constructed  upon  this  specification. 

In  the  following  year,  when  the  cable  was  successfully  laid, 
a  brake  with  a  self-acting  release  arrangement  at  a  given  point 
of  pressure  was  employed.  Here,  only  a  maximum  agreed 
strain  could  be  applied — this  being  regulated  from  time  to  time 
by  weights,  according  to  depth  of  water,  and  consequent  weight 
of  cable  being  payed  out.  The  above  device  was  based  on 
Appold's  apparatus  for  measuring  the  labour  performed  by 
prisoners  at  the  crank.  Its  application  to  the  exigencies  of 
cable -laying  was  worked  out  by  Charles  Bright  in  conjunction 
with  Mr.  C.  E.  Amos,  M.Inst.C.E. 

Three  months  after  laying  the  First  Atlantic  Cable,  Sir  Charles 
took  out  a  patent  containing  a  series  of  important  improvements 
connected  with  the  insulation  of  overground  wires,  including 
the  construction  of  his  insulator  with  double  insulating  sheds- 
one  superimposed  on  the  other.  The  outer,  while  adding  vastly 
to  the  insulation,  was  composed  of  hard  wood,  papier  mache, 
gutta-percha,  etc.,  so  as  to  act  as  a  shield  to  protect  the  inner 
glass,  or  glazed  earthenware,  cup  which  it  covered. 

1  See  also   The  Engineer,  vol.  iv.  p.  38. 



He  also,  in  this  patent  (i8th  November,  1858),  described  an 
improvement  in  his  self-adjusting  terminal  insulators,  which 
are  still  in  general  use  under  the  name  of  "  Bright's  shackles." 

Fifteen  months  afterwards  a  number  of  additional  novelties 
in  telegraphic  apparatus  were  comprised  in  a  patent  (dated  2oth 
February,  1860),  which  contained  seventeen  drawings  relating 
to  nine  distinct  inventions,  covering  apparatus  for  "  duplex  " 
signalling,  improved  "  curb  keys,"  testing  appliances,  printing 
telegraphs,  etc. 

About  two  years  later,  Bright  took  out  a  patent  for  increasing 
the  rate  of  signalling  through  long  submarine,  or  subterranean, 
wires,  by  a  perfected  compensating  (curb)  key,  which  effected 
the  neutralisation  of  the  excess  (or  residual)  electricity,  so  per- 
mitting a  rapid  succession  of  signals. 


Sir  Charles  thus  describes  it  in  the  Specification — No.  538  of 
1862  :- 

The  third  part  of  my  invention  has  reference  to  the  sending  appa- 
ratus, whereby  currents  are  communicated  to  the  conducting  wire. 

In  passing  currents  into  long  lines  of  submarine,  or  subterranean, 
telegraph  wire,  the  speed  of  signalling  in  the  usual  manner  is  re- 
tarded, and  the  distinctness  of  the  several  signals  one  from  the 
other  is  impaired  by  the  effects  of  induction  ;  so  that,  for  instance, 
a  dot  is  liable  to  be  merged  into  a  dash  at  the  distant  end — unless 
the  sending  key  is  operated  so  slowly  as  to  allow  a  sufficient  pause 
between  the  signals  for  the  line  to  become  clear  of  the  residual 
effects  of  the  preceding  signals  before  the  following  current  is 

My  present  improvement  consists  of  a  key  which  is  operated 
in  the  same  manner  as  the  lever  keys  generally  used,  but  which 
regulates  the  force  or  duration,  or  the  force  of  the  currents  sent 
into  the  line. 



The  figure  here  represents  the  key  as  adapted  for  regulating  the 
ordinary  single  current  alphabet  of  dots  and  dashes,  a  a  is  a 
lever  key  working  upon  an  axle  b,  and  operated  by  the  pressure 
of  the  finger  upon  the  ivory  button  c.  The  key  and  base,  d  d,  upon 
which  it  is  fixed,  are  connected  with  the  terminal  e  by  the  metallic 
strap  /,  and  the  terminal  e  is  connected  to  the  line  wire  when  the 
instrument  is  in  use.  The  stud  g,  which  stops  the  motion  of  the 
key,  is  connected  to  the  terminal  h,  which  is  connected  to  one 
pole  of  the  battery.  The  other  pole  of  the  battery  is  connected  to 
earth  so  that  a  current  flows  into  the  line  when  the  key  is  depressed. 
At  the  short  end  of  the  key  is  a  screw  i,  the  lower  end  of  which 
presses  against  a  small  arm  or  lever  k,  and  thus  prevents  it  from 
coming  in  contact  with  the  screw  /,  against  which  it  would  other- 
wise be  pressed  by  the  spring  m.  A  click  n  attached  to.  the  arm 
k  takes  hold  of  the  rough  surface  of  a  wheel  o  upon  the  axle  of 


which  is  fixed  a  spur  wheel  p,  which  gears  into  a  train  of  wheels 
terminating  in  the  fan  q.  When  the  key  is  depressed,  the  click 
takes  hold  of  the  wheel  o,  and  the  speed  at  which  the  arm  k  rises 
is  regulated  by  the  adjustment  of  the  fan  q.  The  screw  /  is  con- 
nected to  the  terminal  r,  which  is  connected  to  the  other  pole  of 
the  battery — or  to  some  intermediate  point  in  the  battery  ;  so 
that  if  the  key  is  depressed  for  a  longer  time  (say  for  sending  a 
stroke)  than  the  time  at  which  the  arm  k  arrives  against  r,  the 
battery  is  placed  upon  short  circuit,  and  no  current  flows  along 
the  line  (or  a  part  of  the  battery  may  be  cut  off)  if  the  connection 
with  r  is  made  at  an  intermediate  point.  By  this  means  a  longer 
interval  takes  place  after  a  long  signal  than  after  a  short  one,  al- 
though the  operator  is  manipulating  the  key  with  the  usual  pauses 
irrespective  of  the  currents  actually  sent  into  the  line  ;  and  when 
once  the  rate  of  motion  of  the  arm  has  been  properly  adjusted  to 


the  requirements  of  the  line  operated  upon,  the  signals  will  come 
out  at  the  other  end  with  equal  spaces  between  them. 

A  second  arm,  controlled  by  a  fan,  to  regulate  the  time  of  com- 
mencement of  the  currents  after  spaces  of  greater  length  than 
the  spaces  between  the  separate  signals,  may  be  used  on  circuits 
of  very  great  length. 

I  have  described  a  fan  as  the  regulator  for  time,  because  the 
periods  under  control  are  so  brief  that  such  regulation  is  suffici- 
ently precise,  and  it  is  easily  understood  by  operators  of  common 
intelligence  ;  but  I  do  not  confine  myself  to  its  use,  as  other  regu- 
lators may  obviously  be  applied  to  govern  the  speed  of  the  arm 
k.  This  system  of  adapting  the  duration  or  force  of  the  current 
to  the  requirements  of  the  line  may  be  readily  applied  to  the  keys 
now  employed  to  send  currents  after  the  ordinary  single  current, 
dot  and  stroke,  system  ;  or  to  the  method  in  use  to  some  extent 
of  sending  two  currents  of  opposite  names  for  each  signal  recorded. 
But  the  positive  and  negative  currents  may  be  separately  utilized 
after  the  manner  invented  by  E.  B.  Bright  and  described  in  the 
specification  of  Letters  Patent  granted  to  him  dated  January  i3th, 
1858  (No.  54),  and  improved  upon  in  the  specification  of  my  patent 
of  February  2oth,  1860  (No.  465),  by  placing  upon  the  axle  of  the 
key  a  wheel  formed  of  two  plates  of  metal  insulated  from  each 
other,  and  connected  to  the  two  poles  of  the  battery.  The  direc- 
tion of  the  current  is  here  changed  at  each  upward  motion  of  the 
key  by  means  of  a  ratchet  wheel  fixed  to  the  commutator,  and 
worked  by  a  click  upon  the  key. 

I  claim  under  this  third  head  of  my  invention  the  method  of 
adapting  the  duration  or  force  of  the  electric  currents  to  the  re- 
quirements of  the  line. 

In  the  above  patent  is  also  described  an  ingenious  fluid  relay, 
in  which  mercury  (or  other  conducting  fluid)  is  allowed  to  flow 
vertically  in  a  fine  stream  between  the  orifices  of  two  reservoirs. 
The  magnetic  needle,  or  arrn  of  the  relay,  on  passing  into  the 
conducting  stream,  completed  the  local,  or  secondary,  circuit ; 
and  on  leaving  broke  it.  Thus,  the  conducting  surface  was  con- 
tinually changed  ;  while  no  force  was  needed  from  the  needle 
or  relay  arm  to  make  contact  by  pressure,  as  in  previous  devices 
of  a  similar  character.  This,  with  other  inventions  already 
described,  was  shown  at  work  in  the  International  Exhibition  of 

In  addition  to  the  foregoing,  there  was  included  in  this  patent, 
his  system  of  protecting  cables  against  both  rust  and  marine 
insects.  It  constituted  a  new  method  of  applying  a  preservative 
coating  by  means  of  an  elevator,  to  layers  of  yarn  or  tape,  as  an 



external  protection  to  submarine  cables,  instead  of  passing 
the  cable  through  the  heated  mixture.  The  object  here  was  to 
avoid  the  danger  of  injury  to  the  gutta-percha  core.  The  mixture 
employed  was  pitch  and  tar,  with  finely  ground  flint,  which  was 
found  to  resist  the  teredo  and  other  boring  sea-worms.  Further 
details  of  the  invention  are  severally  given  in  Chapters  II.  and 
III.  of  Vol.  II.  of  the  original  biography.  It  at  once  came 


into  general  use,  and  yielded  a  large  return  to  Sir  Charles  and 
his  partner,  Mr.  Latimer  Clark.1 

Shortly  after  taking  out  the  above  patent,  Bright  devised  his 

1  The  above  was  worked  in  connection  with  a  previous  patent 
belonging  to  the  firm,  on  which  it  was  a  great  improvement. 


"  ladder  "  lightning  guard,  for  insertion  between  an  aerial  line 
and  its  signalling  instrument  or  submarine  cable  with  which  it  is 
working.  The  guard  was  mainly  intended  for  out-of-the-way 
cable  huts  used  for  connecting  land  wires  with  cables,  and  only 
visited  periodically  for  testing  purposes.  It  is  unnecessarily 
costly  and  elaborate  for  land-line  work  pure  and  simple.  In  this 
device  (see  illustration  on  page  459)  a  series  of  fine  platinum  wires 
are  strung  horizontally — one  above  the  other — at-small  distances 
between  two  conducting  plates,  between  which  is  a  metal  rod 
with  a  pin  resting  on  the  uppermost  wire.  This  rod  is  connected 
to  the  cable  or  telegraph  instrument,  and  the  wires  to  the 
land-line  apparatus.  Should  lightning  enter  the  line,  the  thin 
wire  is  instantly  fused  by  the  charge  before  any  current 
reaches  the  cable  or  telegraph  instrument,  thus  only  allow- 
ing it  to  pass  to  earth  across  the  discharging  points.  The 
vertical  rod  then  drops  by  gravity  to  the  next  cross  wire 
(or  "  rung  ")  of  the  miniature  ladder  ready  for  the  next  similar 
emergency;  thus  the  communication  between  the  line  wire 
and  the  cable  or  telegraph  apparatus  is  not  interrupted,  but 
always  maintained  through  the  wire  and  rods.  This  apparatus 
has  been  used  extensively  in  the  cable  service  since  its  introduc- 
tion. It  has  always  been  found  to  protect  the  cable  efficiently.1 
With  previous  lightning  guards  based  upon  the  fusing  of  a  thin 
wire,  the  communication  was  entirely  interrupted  until  a  fresh 
wire  or  another  protector  had  been  inserted — sometimes  entailing 
a  lengthy  and  difficult  journey.2 

In  1878,  Bright  embodied  an  important  system  of  lighting  by 
induction  in  a  provisional  specification,3  stating  that  "at  each 
point  where  the  light  is  used,  the  light,  or  a  group  of  lights,  is 
actuated  by  the  secondary  coil,  or  coil,  of  an  induction  apparatus 
fixed  there.  The  primary  coil,  of  such  induction  apparatus  is  in 
circuit  with  a  metallic  main  conductor,  common  to  all,  and 
connected  with  an  electric  battery  or  a  magneto-electric  machine, 
which  generates  the  current  at  any  convenient  locality. 

1  There  may,  of  course,  be  any  number  of  these  wires.     When 
the  last  is  fused  the  rod  drops  on  to  the  earth  terminal.     The  aerial 
line  is  then  insulated,  whilst  the  cable  is  direct  to  earth  :   and  this 
being  observed,  fresh  wires  are  then  inserted  as  soon  as  possible. 

2  For  further  particulars  see  Journal  of  the  Institution  of  Electrical 
Engineers,  vol.  xix.  p.  392. 

3  No.  2602  of  1878. 


"  The  size  and  length  of  the  primary  and  secondary  coils  of 
the  induction  apparatus  are  adapted  to  the  number  of  lights 
employed  at  each  point  where  the  secondary  currents  actuate 
the  electric  light."  x 

In  connection  with  this  system  of  transforming  the  current, 
he  also  specified  various  forms  of  incandescent  lamps. 

In  pursuing  his  experiments,  Sir  Charles  was,  however,  led  to 
the  conclusion  that  it  was  not  an  economical  mode  of  distributing 
electricity,  owing  to  the  unavoidable  loss  in  conversion  as  com- 
pared with  the  direct,  or  continuous,  current ;  and  he  did  not, 
therefore,  proceed  to  the  final  specification. 

Some  time  afterwards  the  system  was  re-patented  by  Messrs. 
Gaulard  and  Gibbs,  and  an  important  installation  established, 
having  its  initial  centre  of  distribution  at  the  Grosvenor  Gallery. 
A  little  later  an  action  was  brought  by  those  interested  to  restrain 
others  from  employing  "  transformers."  The  case,  however,  fell 
to  the  ground  on  the  score  of  want  of  novelty,  when  Sir  Charles' 
specification  was  cited. 

The  method  is  now  very  largely  used,  chiefly  owing  to  the 
difficulty  of  finding  suitable  sites  in  the  heart  of  London  and 
other  cities  for  manufacturing  electricity  on  a  large  scale,  except 
at  a  considerable  distance  from  the  lighting  area. 

By  employing  currents  of  great  intensity,  very  small  main 
conductors  can  be  available,  compared  with  those  needed  for 
direct  currents  of  low  voltage.  To  take  an  instance,  the  mains 
from  a  great  distributing  centre  atDeptfordare  insulated  to  with- 
stand the  enormous  tension  of  10,000  volts  !  Entering  the  pri- 
mary wires  of  induction  coils  in  the  City,  it  induces  currents  of 
greatly  moderated  intensity  in  the  much  larger  wires  of  the 
secondary  coils.  These  secondary  currents  are  still  further  re- 
duced, by  a  similar  process  of  transformation,  to  the  low  and 
innocuous  50  or  100  volts,  or  whatever  may  be  required  for  the 

1  In  reference  to  this  invention,  the  Electrician,  of  October  i4th, 
1892,  remarks  :  "  1878.  Specification  No.  4212.  Sir  Charles 
Bright  here  patented  the  lighting  of  vacuum  tubes  (lamps)  by  the 
secondary  coils  of  an  induction  apparatus  situated  at  each  point 
where  the  light  was  required,  the  primary  coils  being  coupled 
up  to  a  main  conductor  common  to  them  all.  May  not  this, 
indeed,  be  freely  interpreted  as  allowing  a  transformer  to  each 
house  ?  " 



In  the  same  year  (1878)  Sir  Charles  brought  out  a  novel  printing 
telegraph,1  in  which  the  various  letters  are  determined  by  a  series 
of  consecutively  differing  resistance  coils— the  resistances  being 
inserted  by  means  of  a  keyboard  at  the  sending  station.  Here 
the  type-wheel  ceases  to  move  at  the  receiving  station— where 
a  different  relay  is  inserted — on  the  equivalent  resistance  being 


By  an  arrangement  of  the  apparatus,  the  type-wheel  is  caused 
to  move  the  letter  to  be  printed  to  either  direction,  instead  of 
rotating  in  one  direction  only,as  in  previous  printing  instruments. 
Thus  is  avoided  the  delay  arising  from  passing  over  letters  rarely 

During  that  year,  again,  the  two  Bright  fire  alarm  patents  for 
street  and  house  (automatic)  duties  saw  the  light  of  day.  As 


a  chapter  has  been  devoted  to  this  matter  no  further  allusion 
seems  necessary.2 

In  1879  Bright  patented  (Specification  No.  792  of  that  year) 
a  series  of  improvements  directed  to  increasing  the  delicacy  of 
the  relays  and  other  telegraphic  receiving  instruments. 

This  apparatus  proved  far  more  sensitive  and  decided  in  action 
than  the  lightest  Morse  relays  of  the  time. 

His  principle  was  to  control  the  moving  part  of  the  receiving 
apparatus,  by  which  the  signal  is  given  or  the  contact  is  made 
(whether  magnet,  armature,  or  coil),  by  a  second  moving  part 
worked  by  the  same  current.  Here,  the  restraint  is  withdrawn 

1  See  Patent  Specification  No.  4873  of  1878. 

2  See  also  the  Society  of  Telegraph  Engineers'  paper  on  "  Electric 
Fire  Alarms,"  by  E.   B.   Bright,  M.Inst.C.E.,  Member  of  Council 
(Jour.  Soc.   Tel.  Eng.,  vol.  xiii.). 



from  the  first  or  signalling  part  while  the  current  is  passing  but 
renewed  and  brought  back  to  zero  when  there  is  no  current  on 
the  line. 

Some  further  improvements  to  increase  the  sensitiveness  and 
lightness  of  telegraph  receiving  apparatus  were  included  in  a 
patent,  No.  2387  of  1880.  Here,  he  turned  to  account  levers  made 
of  aluminium  for  lightness. 


He  made  a  special  application  of  this  arrangement  to  acoustic 
instruments,  or  "  sounders,"  by  making  use  of  the  principle  in 
the  construction  of  ordinary  needle  instruments  ;  and  in  the 
present  day  "  Bright's  single  needle  sounder  "—in  one  form  or 
another — may  be  seen  in  almost  every  country  post  office  and 
railway  station.  On  the  same  pivot  with  the  needle  is  a  pin, 


which,  with  each  movement,  beats  against  either  one  of  two 
cylinders  of  different  metal  and  pitch.  Thus,  the  clerk  can  read 
by  sound  instead  of  by  sight,  with  all  its  attendant  advantages, 
and  this  course  is  nearly  always  adopted  in  receiving  actual 

During  the  following  two  years,  several  patents  followed  for 
improvements  in  electric  "  arc  "  lamps,  chiefly  relating  to  the 
"  feed  "  of  the  carbons  so  as  to  ensure  a  steady  light — a  great 
desideratum,  but  not  attained  to  at  that  period. 

In  the  latter  year  he  also  devised  a  novel  storage  battery 
or  accumulator,  with  the  view  (as  stated  in  the  patent  of  June, 
1882)  "  of  lessening  the  weight  and  space  required  for  a  given 
surface  of  the  elements  employed,  besides  augmenting  the  effec- 
tive action  for  receiving,  storing,  and  utilising  the  charges  of 
electricity,  while  also  simplifying  and  economising  the  con- 
struction and  preparation  of  the  secondary  batteries. 

"  In  carrying  out  the  first  part  of  my  improvements  each 
division,  or  cell,  of  my  secondary  battery  is  separated  by  a  porous 
diaphragm  into  two  parts,  which  are  filled — or  nearly  so — with 
a  great  number  of  small  spherical  granules,  made  of  any  suitable 

"  Electrical  connection  is  made  with  the  two  masses  of  spherical 
granules  in  each  side  of  the  cell  by  means  of  electrodes  communi- 
cating with  them. 

"  I  find  the  ordinary  small  lead  shot,  although  containing  a 
very  little  arsenic,  to  be  very  suitable  as  spherical  granules  ; 
and  in  using  them  I  employ  electrodes  made  also  of  lead.  Sul- 
phuric acid  diluted  with  water  as  the  conducting  fluid  in  the 

The  remainder  of  the  patent  gives  his  method  of  chemically 
converting  the  surface  of  the  granules — as  well  as  other  forms  of 
secondary  batteries — into  protoxide  of  lead,  by  the  employment 
of  dioxide  of  lead,  etc. 

During  1883  Sir  Charles  was  largely  occupied  in  the  production 
of  a  peculiar  dynamo -electric  machine,  the  principle  of  which 
is  thus  shortly  described  in  his  patent  of  May  4th  of  that 
year  : * — 

1  Specification,  No.  2280  of  1883. 



"  In  the  machines  hitherto  constructed  the  coils  either  of 
the  armature  or  field  magnets,  or  both,  are  made  to  rotate  at  a 
very  high  rate  of  speed. 

"  In  my  invention  the  coils  both  of  the  armature  and  field 
magnets  are  fixed." 

It  seems  a  puzzle,  but  he  attained  this  object  by  the  employ- 
ment of  moveable  induced  poles  of  a  special  and  peculiar  shape. 

The  field  magnets  (see  illustration  below)  were  wound  upon 
fixed  hollow  cores,  through  which  passed  an  iron  or  steel  shaft, 
which  was  divided  by  a  non-magnetic  metal  between  the  coils. 
The  divided  ends  of  the  shaft — also  made  of  iron  or  steel — were 
extended  into  the  form  of  segments  of  a  circle  or  radial  arms 
but  on  opposite  sides  to  one  another,  and  so  shaped  that  the 


outer  ends  of  the  segments  or  radial  arms  revolved  in  the  same 

In  immediate  proximity  to  the  outer  parts  of  the  segments  or 
radial  arms,  a  circular  series  of  insulated  conducting  coils  were 
fixed,  forming  an  armature— either  of  the  ring  type,  or  of  a  num- 
ber of  electro  magnets. 

The  divided  shaft  with  its  two  central  segments  would  be 
polarised  by  the  field  magnets  (or  by  permanent  magnets  for 
machines  of  small  type,  if  preferred),  N.  on  one  side  and  S.  on 
the  other.  Its  rotation  communicated  successive  waves  of 
polarity  (and  hence  dynamic  currents)  to  the  coils  of  the  sur- 
rounding fixed  armature  as  the  segments  passed  round. 

This  patent  of  May,  1883,  also  included  an  improved  com- 




mutator  in  which  a  circular  metallic  brush  was  employed  to  make 
the   requisite   electric   contact  between   the  rings   or   cylinders. 

The  above  machine  was,  however,  only  applicable  to  the  pro- 
duction of  a  continuous  current ;  but  in  November  of  the  same 
year  he  took  out  a  further  patent,1  shown  in  the  drawing  below, 
extending  the  principle  to  alternating  current  dynamos.  In  this, 
as  previously,  the  armature  coils  are  fixed  as  well  as  the  field 
magnets,  the  central  shaft  which  rotates  being  divided  in  the 
centre,  as  before,  by  a  piece  of  brass  or  other  non-magnetic  metal. 
The  magnetic  parts  of  the  shaft  expanded  at  each  of  their 
central  ends  into  discs,  from  the  outer  edge  of  which  spaces 
were  cut,  so  as  to  constitute  radial  arms,  which  thus  formed  poles, 


North  on  the  one  side  of  the  now  magnetic  division,  and  South 
on  the  other.  The  N.  and  S.  radial  arms  alternated  with  one 
another  in  position,  as  shown,  and  thus,  when  rotated  before 
the  armature  coils  (which  were  linked  in  pairs),  produced  alter- 
nating currents. 

By  this  invention  it  will  be  seen  that  the  arrangement  of  the 
apparatus  is  such  that  the  employment  of  collectors  or  commuta- 
tors is  altogether  dispensed  with.  Again,  the  repairs  which  arise 
from  the  damage  of  coils  of  wire  moving  at  a  high  speed  arc 
avoided — as  well  as  the  inequalities  of  the  current  arising  from 
imperfect  contact — besides  the  wear  between  the  collectors  and 
commutators  with  the  frequent  adjustment  entailed. 

1  Specification  No.  5422  of  1883. 


The  principle  involved  in  both  these  improvements  may  be 
thus  tersely  described  :  Instead  of  the  currents  being  set  up  in 
the  coils  of  the  armature  ring  by  revolving  rapidly  within  or 
adjacent  to  the  poles  of  the  field  magnets,  the  divided  shaft  itself 
forms  the  field  magnet's  poles,  and  induces  the  requisite  currents 
in  the  armature  coils,  by  its  rotation  before  (or  in  juxtaposition 
to)  them. 

To  sum  up  this  digest,  Sir  Charles  Bright  took  out  some  twenty 
patents,  comprising  about  one  hundred  and  thirty  distinct  in- 
ventions, which  were  either  entire  novelties  or  else  practical 
improvements  upon  his  own  or  other  previous  apparatus.  A 
large  proportion  of  these  came  into  use. 

From  the  first  essay  in  1852 — for  more  than  thirty  years — his 
average  came  to  something  over  one  invention  every  three 

The  foregoing  analysis  tends  to  show  over  what  a  wide  field 
Bright's  reasonings  and  researches  extended,  and  how  versatile 
was  his  inventive  genius. 


ACT,  Telegraph  Purchase  and  Regula- 
tions (1869),  373 

Bright,  276 

AGAMKMNO.V,  H.M.S.,  lent  by  H.M. 
Government  for  First  Atlantic  Cable 
undertaking,  55  ;  description  of, 
55  ;  takes  cable  aboard,  55  ;  with 
the  cable  in  a  storm,  98  ;  completes 
the  laying  of  the  First  Atlantic  Cable 
(August  5th,  1858-),  136 

AIRY,  PROFESSOR  (afterwards  Sir 
George  Biddell  Airy,  K.C.B.,  F.R.S.), 
reports  on  feasibility  of  Trans- 
Atlantic  Telegraphy,  81 

ANDERSON,  CAPTAIN  (afterwards  Sir 
James),  commands  Great  Eastern, 
1865  and  1866  Atlantic  Cable  expe- 
ditions, 181 

PANY, formation  of,  182  ;  relations 
with  Atlantic  Co.,  188  (note)  ;  Bright 
Consulting  Engineer  to,  188 

ARBITRATION,  Bright  acts  in  regard 
to  Railway  Cos.'  and  Government 
Telegraphs,  376 

ARMS,  coat  of,  belonging  to  Bright 
family,  3 

ment for  formation  of,  39  ;  regis- 
tration of,  41  ;  first  meeting  of,  41 ; 
Bright  subscribes  to,  42  ;  election 
of  board,  42  ;  American  support, 
43  ;  negotiations  with  Government, 
43  ;  first  meeting  of  shareholders, 
45  ;  Magnetic  Co.  provides  capital 
for,  45  ;  Bright  appointed  Engineer- 
in-Chief,  46  ;  Mr.  Whitehouse  ap- 
pointed electrician,  46  ;  Mr.  Field 
appointed  general  manager,  46  ;  in- 
crease of  capital,  75  ;  representa- 
tives on  1865  expedition,  182  ; 
amalgamated  with  Anglo-American 
Co.,  184 

BADSWORTH  :  Hall,  i  ;  monument  in 
Church,  2  ;  Hunt,  3 

BALEARIC  ISLANDS,  Bright  telegraphic- 
ally connects  with  Spain  (1860),  202 

BRETT,  BROTHERS,  promotion  of  cable 
laying,  26 

£5,000  of  shares  and  bonds  in  "  New- 
foundland "  Co.,  38  ;  counsels  re- 
newed effort  after  disaster  of  1858, 
116;  cause  of  cable  injury,  views 
on,  165 

BRIGHT,  MR.  BRAILSFORD,  father  of 
Sir  Charles  Bright,  4 

BRIGHT,  THE  BROTHERS  (Sir  Charles 
Tilston  and  Edward  Brailsford), 
joint  inventions  of,  8  ;  testing 
electric  wires,  8,  9  ;  duplex  tele- 
graphy, 24  ;  fault-testing  apparatus, 
9,  162  ;  curb  keys,  163  ;  West 
Indian  cable  work,  345  ;  railway 
arbitrations,  376,  377 ;  Servian 
mines,  381-387  ;  fire  alarm,  388 

scent from  ancient  Yorkshire  family, 
i  ;  birth  and  parentage,  4  ;  sporting 
proclivities,  4  ;  at  Merchant  Taylors' 
School,  4  ;  success  in  games,  and  on 
the  river,  4  ;  bent  of  school  studies, 
4  ;  early  interest  in  electricity  and 
chemistry,  6  ;  in  answer  to  adver- 
tisement, joins  Electric  Telegraph 
Co.  at  fifteen,  6  ;  works  instrument 
at  telegraph  station,  6  ;  precocious 
inventor,  8  (note)  ;  becomes  assist- 
ant engineer,  British  Telegraph  Co., 
9  ;  letter  to  his  fiancee,  g  ;  insulator 
for  aerial  telegraph  wires,  1 1  ;  En- 
gineer-in-Chief  to  Magnetic  Tele- 
graph Co.,  ii  ;  shackles,  n  ;  tele- 
graph posts,  12  ;  translator  or 
repeater,  12  ;  metal  tape  for  pro- 
tecting insulated  wires,  12  ;  mar- 
riage, 19  ;  lays  the  first  cable  to 
Ireland  (1853),  26-30  ;  Atlantic 
cable  most  memorable  achievement 
of  his  career,  32  ;  experiments  car- 
ried on  with  his  brother,  on  the 
wires  of  the  Magnetic  Co.,  19,  20, 
35,  36  ;  copper  conductor  for  cable 
recommended  bv,  46  ;  protests  at 
insufficient  size  of  conductor  adopted, 
48  ;  appointed  Engineer-in-Chief  to 
Atlantic  Telegraph  Co.,  46  ;  vigil- 
ance in  superintending  manufacture 
of  cable,  51  ;  cable-laying  gear,  58  ; 
patent  log,  58  ;  Bright  strongly 
urges  for  laying  the  cable  from  both 
ships  simultaneously  from  mid- 
ocean  but  this  plan  not  adopted 
till  afterwards,  58  ;  Bright  starts  work 
from  Niagara,  66  ;  reports  on  cause 
of  first  disaster,  69  ;  arrives  at  Ply- 
mouth after  first  disaster,  73  ;  pro- 
ceeds to  Valentia  to  pick  up  cable, 
74  ;  modification  of  Appold's  Fric- 
tion Brake  by,  76 ;  dynamometer 
invented  by,  78  ;  leads  off  dis- 
cussion on  papers  concerning  sub- 




marine  telegraphy  at  learned  so- 
cieties, 81,  82  ;  approached  by 
numerous  "  inventors,"  82  ;  or- 
ganises a  "  Trial  Trip  "  of  the  Cable 
Fleet  and  tests  his  arrangements  for 
laying  the  cable,  88-91  ;  aboard  the 
Agamemnon  in  a  perilous  storm,  91- 

105  ;    embarks  on  a  renewed  effort, 

1 06  ;     again    attended   by    disaster, 
106 ;     sets    forth    once    more    with 
H.M.S.     Agamemnon    and    rest     of 
squadron,    117  ;    and  this  time   (on 
August  5th,   1858)  achieves  success, 
137  ;      sends    message    to    Atlantic 
Telegraph   Co.,    140  ;    lands  end  of 
cable    on    coast    of    Ireland,     141  ; 
official  report  of  success,  141  (note)  ; 
banquetted    in    Dublin,     144  ;      at 
Killarney,    146  ;     Knighthood    con- 
ferred  on,    for   successful   laying   of 
First  (1858)  Atlantic  Cable  (age  26), 
145,    146    (note)  ;     presentation    at 
Court,    145  ;     brief    rest    at    home, 
149  ;       bitter     disappointment     on 
electrical   collapse  of   First  Atlantic 
Cable,    158  ;     views   on    the    cause, 
159  ;     final   efforts   made   to   renew 
signalling   with   his   Curb    Key    ap- 
paratus, 163  ;    North  Atlantic  Cable 
Project    of    1860,    association    with, 
167  ;     Royal    Geographical    Society 
Paper   on    the   results   of   the    Fox 
surveying    expedition,    173  ;     Joint 
Report,  with  Robert  Stephenson,  to 
the  Board  of  Trade,  regarding  types 
of  cable,  200  ;    advises  Government 
regarding  proposed  line  to  Gibraltar, 
200  ;  lays  cable  in  the  Mediterranean 
Sea  (Spain  to  Balearic  Isles),  200-204  ; 
Telegraphic    extensions    for    "  Mag- 
netic "  and  "  Submarine  "  Telegraph 
Companies,  205-206  ;     urges  impor- 
tance of    surveying  proposed   cable 
routes,    208  ;    retirement   from   En- 
gineership   (in  favour  of    Consulting 
Engineership)  to  "  Magnetic  "  Com- 
pany, 209  ;    partnership  (1861)  with 
Mr.  Latimer  Clark,  M.Inst.C.E.,  212  ; 
makes  suggestions  regarding  electri- 
cal standards  and  units,  212  ;    and 
serves    on    (1861)    B.A.    Committee 
for,    213  ;     Joint    B.A.    paper    with 
Mr.  L.  Clark,  on  "  Electrical  Stand- 
ards, Units  and  Measurements,"  213  ; 
makes  experiments  concerning  effect 
of  temperature  and  pressure  on  the 
insulation    of    covered    wires,    214  ; 
evolves    formula    for    same,     215  ; 
outer     covering     for     cables,     216  ; 
application    of,     217  ;      cable    com- 
pound, 216,  225  ;   patent  for  curbing 
electric    currents    when    signalling, 
216;    the  Telegraph  to   India,   En- 
gineer   to    Government    for    (1862), 
219  ;  personal  supervision  of  Persian 
Gulf  cables,  225  ;    adopts  improved 

and  elaborate  system  of  electrical 
testing  for  same,  227-229  ;  starts 
laying  cable  sections  from  sailing 
ships  (January,  1864),  235  ;  landing 
the  cable  in  mud,  247  ;  completes 
work  successfully  (April,  1864),  255  ; 
first  message  through  line  to  Bright, 
240  ;  returns  home,  256  ;  reads 
paper  on  the  "  Telegraph  to  India  " 
to  Institution  of  Civil  Engineers  and 
is  awarded  Telford  Medal  (1865), 
261  ;  asked,  and  agrees,  to  "  stand 
for "  Parliamentary  Borough  of 
Greenwich,  265  ;  election  address, 
266;  elected  M.P.  (1865),  274; 
political  views,  see  election  address, 
266  ;  activity  in  the  House  of  Com- 
mons, 274  ;  urges  for  the  equalisa- 
tion of  poor  rates,  300  ;  takes 
part  in  Government  inquiry  into 
Construction  of  Submarine  Cables, 
277  ;  serves  on  Parliamentary  Com- 
mittees regarding  telegraphic  and 
postal  improvements  with  the  East, 
283-289  ;  acts  as  Consulting  Engineer 
to  second  and  third  (1865-6)  Atlantic 
Cables,  179,  185,  188  ;  advises  on 
types  and  estimates  for  same,  179, 
185  ;  draws  out  specification  for 
same,  179  ;  speech  at  Liverpool 
Banquet  on  completion  of  1866 
Atlantic  Cable,  196  ;  Consulting  En- 
gineer to  subsequent  Atlantic  Cable 
enterprises,  199  ;  promotes  exten- 
sion of  cables  to  Far  East,  289  ; 
Engineer  and  Electrician  to  Anglo- 
Mediterranean  Telegraph  Co.,  292  ; 
Malta-Alexandria  Cable  expedition, 
293  ;  stays  in  Cairo,  293  ;  Engineer 
to  British  Indian  Submarine  Tele- 
graph Co.,  294  ;  Engineer  to  British 
Indian  Extension  Telegraph  Co., 
295  ;  Consulting  Engineer  to  the 
China  Submarine  Telegraph  Co., 
295  ;  Engineer  to  the  British- 
Australian  Telegraph  Co.,  295  ; 
Engineer  to  the  Falmouth,  Gibraltar 
and  Malta  Telegraph  Co.,  296  ; 
opposes  hasty  acquirement  of  land 
telegraphs  by  Government,  299  ; 
retirement  from  Parliament  (1868), 

304  ;     undertakes    the    laying    of    a 
system  of  cables  in  the  West  Indies, 

305  ;    acquires  and  fits  out  as  tele- 
graph  ship   the   s.s.    Dacia   for   the 
purpose,  310  ;    devises  gear  aboard, 
312  ;     designs   type   of   cable,    313  ; 
association    with    Silvertown    Com- 
pany, 310 ;  experiences  much  trouble, 
and    two    years'  anxiety,  in    laying 
West  Indian  cables  on  bad  sea-bot- 
tom, in  unhealthy  climate,  316-318  ; 
victim     to    malarious    fever,     360  ; 
goes    home    under    doctor's    orders, 
360 ;     returns    to    West    Indies    to 
complete  work,  365  ;    grappling  for 



and  repairing  cables,  365-367  ;  home 
once  more,  367  ;  promotes  other 
cable  enterprises,  372  ;  again  op- 
poses State  absorption  of  inland 
telegraphs,  373  ;  expert  witness 
in  railway  and  Government  tele- 
graph arbitrations,  376  ;  mining  in 
France,  Germany,  Somersetshire  and 
Servia,  378-387  ;  fire  alarm  system, 
388-396  ;  expert  in  telephony,  397  ; 
gives  evidence  for  the  Post  Office 
v.  Edison  Telephone  Co.,  398  ; 
electric  lighting  expert  and  in- 
ventor, 399  ;  consulting  engineer 
to  British  Electric  Light  Co.,  399  ; 
gives  expert  evidence  concerning 
Direct  United  States  Cable,  409  ; 
Reports  on  Mackay-Bennett  Atlantic 
Cable  Scheme,  411  ;  draws  up 
specification  for  same,  412  ;  reports 
on  Ailhaud's  Duplex  Telegraphy  as 
infringement  on  Messrs.  Muirhead's 
Patents,  412;  reports  on  Phonopore, 
413  ;  Commissioner  for  H.M.  Govern- 
ment at  Paris  Electrical  Exhibition 
(1881),  414  ;  conducts  the  Prince  of 
Wales  (now  H.M.  The  King)  over 
Exhibition,  417  ;  becomes  President 
of  the  Societe  Internationale  des 
Electriciens,  417  ;  becomes  President 
of  the  Institution  of  Electrical 
Engineers,  during  1887  Jubilee  of 
Telegraphy,  418  ;  inaugural  ad- 
dress as  President,  418  ;  early  in- 
terest in  Volunteer  movement,  423  ; 
captain  of  Volunteer  corps,  423  ; 
prominent  as  a  Freemason,  424 ; 
home  life,  426  ;  recreations — shoot- 
ing, fishing,  yachting  and  travel- 
ling, 427-438  ;  club  reminiscences, 
439  ;  bust  of,  by  Count  Gleichen, 
439,  440  ;  death,  441  ;  funeral, 
443  ;  summary  of  life  work  and 
main  characteristics,  446-448  ;  sum- 
mary of  inventions,  see  Appendix 
elder  brother  of  Sir  Charles,  4  ; 
joins  Electric  Telegraph  Co.,  6; 
early  joint  inventions  with  his 
brother,  8  ;  joins  Magnetic  Tele- 
graph Co.,  9  ;  and  becomes  Mana- 
ger, ii  ;  B.A.  paper  on  "  Retarda- 
tion of  Electricity  through  Long 
Subterranean  Wires,"  20  ;  succeeds 
his  brother  as  Engineer  (whilst  re- 
maining Manager)  of  "  Magnetic  " 
Co.,  25  ;  joins  Sir  Charles  in  West 
Indies  for  cable  work,  340  ;  under- 
takes grappling  for  lost  cables  during 
Sir  Charles'  absence  at  home,  362  ; 
engaged  with  Sir  Charles  on  railway 
arbitrations,  376,  377  ;  engaged 
with  Sir  Charles  on  mines  in  Servia, 
381-387  ;  introduces, with  Sir  Charles, 
street  and  automatic  fire  alarm 
systems,  388  ;  contributes  paper  on 

subject ;  becomes  Director  of  the 
British  Electric  Light  Co.,  399  ;  a 
prominent  Volunteer,  423  ;  a  pro- 
minent Freemason,  424 
BRIGHT,  Mr.  JOHN,  formerly  M.P.  for 
Pontefract,  first  master  of  Bads- 
worth  hunt,  2 

BRIGHT,  COL.  SIR  JOHN,  Bart.,  ancestor 
of  Sir  Charles,  i  ;    monument  to,  2 
BRIGHT,  RT.  HON.  JOHN,  M.P.,  302 
BRIGHT,  LADY,  on  board  during  laying 
of  Anglo- Irish  cable,  28  ;    letters  to, 
from  Bright  (mainly  when  abroad), 
9,  16,  233,  234,  252,  309,  315,  321, 
322,    323,   338,   385  ;    telegram  and 
congratulations    to,     on    laying    of 
Atlantic  cable,  142 
BRIGHT,  Miss  MARY  ANGELA,  married 

to  Mr.  David  Jardine  Jardine,  426 
BRIGHT,  Miss  BEATRICE,  314 
BRIGHT  &  CLARK,  Messrs.,  the  firm  of, 
212  ;  paper  on  electrical  standards, 
units,  and  measurements,  213  ; 
nomenclature  of  electrical  standards 
and  units,  213  (note)  ;  experiments 
on  effect  of  temperature  and  pres- 
sure on  the  insulation  of  gutta-percha- 
covered  wire,  214,  215  ;  compound 
for  covering  cables,  216  ;  engineers 
for  Government  to  first  cable  to 
India,  225  ;  Consulting  Engineers 
to  Anglo-American  Telegraph  Co. 
(second  and  third  Atlantic  Cables), 
188,  193,  194,  195  ;  British  Indian 
Telegraph  Co.,  294  ;  British  Indian 
Extension  Telegraph  Co.,  295  ;  China 
Submarine  Telegraph  Co.,  295  ;  Brit- 
ish-Australian Telegraph  Co.,  295  ; 
Marseilles,  Algiers  and  Malta  Tele- 
graph Co.,  295  ;  Falmouth,  Gibral- 
tar and  Malta  Telegraph  Co.,  296  ; 
dissolution  of  partnership,  304  ; 
BRISTOL,  Bright  advises  re  electric 

light,  405 

BRITISH   ASSOCIATION,    Committee  on 
Electrical    Standards     and      Units 
(1861),  Bright  a  member  of,  213 

Bright  consulting  engineer  to,  399 
GRAPH COMPANY,  the  amalgamation 
of  earlier  companies,  25  (see  under 
"  Magnetic  "  Telegraph  Co.) 
BUST,    Bright's,    by    Count    Gleichen, 
exhibited  at   Royal  Academy,   439, 

CABLES,  earliest  (in  shallow  water),  26 
CABLE,    ANGLO-IRISH    (1853),    26-30; 

design  and  manufacture  of,  27-20  ; 

laying  of,  by  Bright,  in  deep  water, 

28,     30    (see    under    Ireland,    first 

effective  cable  to) 



CABLE,  FIRST  ATLANTIC  (1857-8),  the 
greatest  achievement  of  Bright's 
career,  32  ;  general  requirements, 
and  nature  of  the  undertaking,  33, 
53  ;  conditions  for  landing,  37  ; 
description  of  sheathed  cable,  46-50  ; 
length  of,  46 ;  for  depth  of,  34  ; 
construction  of,  50-52  ;  type  of 
insulated  conductor,  46,  48  ;  1857 
machinery  for  regulating  egress  of, 
56,  57  ;  landing  at  Bally carberry, 
Ireland,  63  ;  description  of  laying 
by  Bright  up  to  time  of  first  break- 
age, 66-69  ;  picked  up  at  Valentia, 

74  ;   necessary  further  capital  raised, 

75  ;  Bright's  improved  (1858)  paying 
out  gear,  77  ;    novel  suggestions  re- 
garding the  problem,  82-86  ;  working 
through   (electrical)    experiments   at 
Keyham   Dockyard,    86 ;     introduc- 
tion  of  Thomson   Marine   Galvano- 
meter and  "  Speaker,"   87  ;    subse- 
quent decision  to  pay  out  from  two 
ships   starting   from   mid-ocean    to- 
wards respective  shores,  87  ;    "  Trial 
Trip  "  for  testing  arrangements  and 
methods,     88  ;      Agamemnon    in     a 
storm,      91  ;       cable      consequently 
adrift,    100 ;     renewed   effort,    105  ; 
splice   lowered   in   mid-ocean,    107  ; 
cable  breaks,  107  ;   another  attempt, 
109  ;     another    break,    112  ;     ships 
return    home,     115  ;     proposals    to 
abandon    project,    116;     a    further 
effort     decided     on,      117  ;       splice 
lowered    once    more    in    mid-ocean, 
122  ;     ships  start   paying   out   once 
more,  123  ;   encounter  with  a  whale 
124  ;    another  narrow  escape,   124 
splicing  against  time,  126  ;    bolster 
ous  weather  and  precautions,    129 
growing    confidence,  131  ;  perse ver 
ance  rewarded,    137  ;     Bright  lands 
Irish  end  August  5th,  1858  ;  signals 
successfully  sent  through  to  further 
end,  137  ;   landing  of  American  end, 
140  ;     wild   rejoicings    in    America, 
142  ;    Bright  sends  official  message 
reporting  completion  of  work,  140  ; 
celebrations    of    event,    146  ;    elec- 
tricians  take   charge   of   line,    150 ; 
congratulatory     messages     between 
Queen  Victoria  and  American  Presi- 
dent, 151-152  ;  other  early  messages, 
1 5  5-i  56;     English     and     American 
newspapers    enthusiastic,   142,   154  ; 
military  messages,  enormous  saving 
effected  through,  156  ;  gradual  failure 
of  insulation,   156  ;    causes  of  total 
failure  after  three  months'  working, 

CABLES,  between  First  (1858)  Atlantic 
and  Second  (1865)  Atlantic  line  : 
Red  Sea  and  India,  220  ;  Spain  to 
Balearic  Isles,  202-204  ;  Malta  to 
Alexandria  (in  sections),  201  ;  Persian 

Gulf  (first  successful  cable  to  India, 
1863-4),  219-264  (see  also  under 
Persian  Gulf  Cable  and  under  India, 
Telegraph  to) 

CABLES,  second  and  third  Atlantic 
(1865-6),  Bright  acts  as  Consulting 
Engineer  to,  179,  185,  188  ;  fresh 
capital  required  for,  176  ;  cost  and 
type  of,  178-180  ;  decision  to  lay  in 
a  single  length  from  one  ship  only, 
and  Great  Eastern  selected  for  pur- 
pose, 1 80  ;  cable  broken  during 
paying  out,  183  ;  further  capital 
again  raised,  and  new  company 
formed,  184  ;  ultimate  success 
achieved  (1866),  189  ;  recovery  and 
completion  of  1865  cable  after  re- 
peated failures  and  many  mishaps, 

CABLES,  subsequent  to  second  and 
third  Atlantic  lines  :  Anglo-Mediter- 
ranean (Malta- Alexandria,  direct), 
292  ;  British  Indian  (Suez-Bom- 
bay), 294  ;  British  Indian  Extension 
(India  -  Straits  Settlements  -  China- 
Japan- Australia),  295  ;  Marseilles, 
Algiers  and  Malta,  296  ;  Falmouth, 
Gibraltar  and  Malta,  296  ;  West 
Indian,  305-370  (see  under  West 
Indian  Cables) 

CANNING,  MR.  (Sir  Samuel),  M.  Inst. 
C.E.,  Bright's  chief  assistant  on  First 
(1858)  Atlantic  Cable,  51  ;  Engineer- 
in-Charge  for  contractors  to  Second 
and  Third  Atlantic  Cables,  178,  182 

CECIL,  LORD  SACKVILLE,  acts  for 
Bright  when  abroad,  318,  319 

CHAMPAIN,  MAJOR  (Sir  J.  U.  Bateman, 
R.E.,  K.C.M.G.),  251  ;  Director- 
General  Indo-European  Government 
Telegraphs,  258 

CHISWICK,  Bright  removes  to  Little 
Sutton,  304 

CLARK,  MR.  LATIMER,  F.R.S.,  M.Inst. 
C.E.,  partnership  with  Bright,  212  ; 
reads  joint  B.A.  paper  with  Bright 
on  "  Electrical  Standards,  Units  and 
Measurements,"  213  ;  representing 
Messrs.  Bright  &  Clark  on  Second 
and  Third  Atlantic  Cable  expedi- 
tions, 1 8 8,  193  ;  Bright  dissolves 
partnership  with,  304 

CLIFFORD,  MR.  HENRY,  a  cousin-in- 
law  of  Bright's,  51  ;  joins  Bright's 
staff  on  First  Atlantic  Cable,  51  ; 
Assistant  (and  afterwards  Chief)  En- 
gineer to  Telegraph  Construction 
Co.,  178  ;  Chief  Assistant-Engineer 
to  contractors  for  Second  and  Third 
Atlantic  Cables,  182 

CLUBS,  BRIGHT'S,  Reform,  Garrick, 
Whitehall  and  Thames  Yacht,  438 

COMMEMORATIONS  :  Rejoicing  celebra- 
tions in  America  on  completion  of 
First  Atlantic  Cable,  1858,  142  ; 
banquet  at  Dublin  to  Bright  on 



successful  laying  of  First  Atlantic 
Cable,.  144  ;  at  Killarney  on  same 
occasion,  144  ;  on  retirement  from 
engineership  of  "  Magnetic "  Co., 
209  ;  with  illuminated  testimonial 
and  presentation  of  plate,  210  ;  at 
Bombay,  to  celebrate  successful  com- 
pletion of  first  telegraph  to  India, 
by  cable,  255  ;  at  Liverpool,  on 
return  of  1866  Atlantic  Cable  Expe- 
dition, 194  ;  to  celebrate  Atlantic 
telegraphy,  278,  280,  281  ;  Bright's 
speech  at,  279  ;  Field's  speech  at, 
279  ;  Morse's  greeting  message,  281  ; 
address  and  banquet  to  Bright  at 
Kingston,  Jamaica,  on  laying  of  the 
West  Indian  Cables,  331,  332 

sociation, on  the  formulation  of 
Electrical  Standards  and  Units 
(1861),  Bright  a  member  of,  213  ; 
House  of  Commons  (1860),  on  Im- 
provement in  communication  with 
India  and  the  East,  Bright  a  member 
of,  283,  289  ;  Board  of  Trade,  on 
Electric  Lighting  Bill  of  1882, 
Bright  a  member  of,  405 

COMPOUND,  Bright  &  Clark's,  for 
outer  cable  covering,  214-218 

CONDUCTOR,  COPPER  :  adopted  for 
First  Atlantic  Cable,  Bright's  objec- 
tion to,  46 ;  Whitehouse's  views 
on,  48,  160  ;  Faraday's  and  Morse's 
views,  48,  159,  160  ;  Bright's  specifi- 
cation for  heavier  core,  159  ;  Second 
Atlantic  Cable  (1865-6),  Bright's 
specification  for,  179  ;  improvements 
in  Persian  Gulf  Cable,  226,  227 

joint  founder  of  the  Electric  Tele- 
graph Co.,  7 ;  expresses  pride  in 
Bright's  career,  175 

CORE,  Gutta-percha,  adopted  for  First 
Atlantic  Cable,  46  ;  Bright's  objec- 
tion to,  46 ;  Bright's  specification 
for  Second  and  Third  Atlantic  Cables, 
179  ;  and  for  Gibraltar  Cable,  201 

CRAMPTON,  MR.  T.  R.,  carries  through 
early  English  Channel  cable  scheme, 

PANY, 310  ;  cables  laid  by  Bright 
for,  319 

CURBING,  CURRENTS,  Bright's  Key 
device  for,  218,  also  Appendix 

Dacia,  s.s.,  Bright  secures  and  fits  as 
telegraph  ship,  310  ;  cable  apparatus 
for,  312  ;  off  Silvertown  Works,  311 ; 
West  Indian  Cable  shipped  on,  314; 
reported  wrecked,  315;  engaged  on 
West  Indian  Cable  work  (1869-71), 

Daily  Telegraph,  the,  on  "  The 
Anglo-Indian  Electric  Line,"  237 

DEATH  of  Sir  Charles  Bright,  441 

DIARY,    Bright's,    when    laying    West 

India  Cables,  335 
DUPLEX  TELEGRAPHY,   Bright  reports 

on    an   infringement    of   Muirhead's 

system  of,  412 
DYNAMOMETER,    for   cable   laying,    bv 

Bright,  78 

EAST  AND  FAR  EAST,  Bright  urges 
telegraphic  extension  to,  289 

COMPANY,  cable  system  of,  originates 
with  Bright,  289  (note),  290,  298,  299 

ELECTION,  Parliamentary,  Greenwich, 

joins,  6 

ELECTRIC  LIGHTING  (see  Lighting, 

Electrical  Review,  the,  on  Bright's 
Presidential  address  to  Institution 
of  Electrical  Engineers,  418  ;  obitu- 
ary notice  of  Bright,  442 

EVERETT,  MR.  W.  E.,  U.S.N.,  Assistant 
Engineer,  First  Atlantic  Cable  (1858), 

FARADAY,  mistaken  views  on  signalling 
through  First  Atlantic  Cable,  48, 160 

FAULTS,  Bright's  system,  of  1852,  for 
locating,  8  ;  used  in  testing  faulty 
First  Atlantic  Cable,  162 

FIELD,  MR.  CYRUS,  W.,  104  ;  forms 
syndicate  and  establishes  the  New 
York,  Newfoundland  and  London 
Telegraph  Co.,  38  ;  makes  the  ac- 
quaintance of  Mr.  John  Watkins 
Brett,  38  ;  signs  agreement  with 
Brett  and  Bright,  as  joint  projectors 
for  an  Atlantic  cable,  40  ;  fails  to 
obtain  sufficient  American  capital 
for  same,  43  ;  subscribes  to  Atlantic 
Telegraph  Co.,  42  ;  becomes  general 
manager  of  Atlantic  Telegraph  Co., 
46  ;  accompanies  1857  and  1858  First 
Atlantic  Cable  expeditions,  66,  89, 
92,  1 1 8  ;  promoter  of  Second  Atlantic 
Cable,  177 ;  again  fails  to  obtain 
substantial  American  support  for 
cable,  177 

FIRE  ALARM,  system  of  Brothers 
Bright,  388  ;  adopted  in  London, 
390  ;  automatic  method,  392  ;  gold 
medal  awarded  for,  at  Paris  Ex- 
hibition (1881),  393  ;  and  Crystal 
Palace  (1882)  Exhibition,  393  ; 
paper  on,  at  Society  of  Telegraph 
Engineers,  396 

FISHING,  Bright's  fondness  for,  427 

FORBES,  PROF.  GEORGE,  F.R.S.,  as- 
sociated with  Bright  over  electric 
lighting  work,  408 

FORDE,  MR.  H.  C.,  M.Inst.C.E.,  joint 
engineer  (with  Mr.  Lionel  Gisborne) 
for  "  Red  Sea  "  Co.'s  line,  1858,  220; 



joint  engineer  with  Bright,  Mr. L.Clark 
and  Prof.  Fleeming  Jenkinfor  British 
Indian  Extension  Co.'s  Cables,  295 

Fox  (steam  yacht),  North  Atlantic 
Surveying  Expedition,  the,  172 

FREEMASONRY,  Bright's  association 
with,  424  ;  "  Sir  Charles  Bright  " 
Lodge  at  Teddington,  425 

FUNERAL  of  Sir  Charles  Bright,  443 

Atlantic  Telegraph  project,  meeting 
before  Fox  expedition,  171  ;  discus- 
sion on  Bright's  paper  thereon,  173 

GIBRALTAR,  projected  cable  to,  Bright 
advises  Government  on,  201 

GISBORNE,  Mr.  F.  N.,  obtains  sole 
landing  rights  for  cable  on  coast  of 
Newfoundland,  37  ;  erects  New- 
foundland land  line,  38  ;  disposes 
of  exclusive  rights  to  Mr.  Cyrus 
Field,  38 

GISBORNE,  Mr.  Lionel,  engineer  "  Red 
Sea  "  line,  1858,  220 

GLADSTONE,  Right  Hon.  W.  E.,  M.P., 
succeeds  Bright  as  member  for 
Greenwich,  303 

GLASS,  ELLIOT  &  Co.,  manufacturers 
of  half  the  First  Atlantic  Cable,  50 

GLEICHEN,  Count  (Prince  Victor  of 
Hohenlohe-Langenburg),  executes 
bust  of  Bright,  439,  440 

GOLDSMID,  MAJOR  (Maj. -General  Sir 
F.  J.  Goldsmid,  K.C.S.I.,  C.B.), 
Persian  survey  by,  224  ;  Director- 
General  Indo-European  telegraph 
system,  258 

PANIES, 299,  314  ;  Bright's  opposi- 
tion to,  on  behalf  of,  219,  314 

GRAPPLING,  appliances  used  on  s.s. 
Great  Eastern  for  recovering  the 
1865  Atlantic  Cable,  186,  187  ;  work 
on  West  Indian  Cable  expeditions, 
309,  336-367 

GRAY,  Mr.  MATTHEW,  West  Indian 
Cables,  310 

GREENWICH,  Parliamentary  borough 
of,  Bright  elected  member  for,  274  ; 
declines  re-nomination  for,  301 

HARLEYFORD,  Bright's  shooting  at,  429 

HARROW  WEALD,  Bright's  home  at, 
54,  55 

HENLEY,  Mr.  W.  T.,  manufacturer  of 
Persian  Gulf  Cable,  225 

HOME  LIFE,  Bright's,  426 

HOOPER,  Mr.  WILLIAM,  improvement 
in  india-rubber  insulated  cables, 
281  ;  reported  on  by  Messrs.  Bright 
&  Clark,  283 

HUGHES,  Prof.  D.  E.,  F.R.S.,  fellow 
commissioner  with  Bright  of  Paris 
Exhibition  (1881),  415  ;  contributes 
joint  paper  thereon  with  Bright,  416 

HUNTER,  Capt.,  J.E.,  R.N.  of  H.M.S. 
Vestal,  assists  Bright  on  West  Indian 
Cable  work,  316  ;  manages  Servian 
mines,  384 

INDIA,  TELEGRAPH  TO  (1863-4),  failure 
of  "  Red  Sea  "  Co.'s  attempt  (1858), 
220  ;  formation  of  new  company 
(1862),  220 ;  submarine  cable  de- 
cided on,  223  ;  appointment  of 
directors  and  engineers  (Messrs. 
Bright  &  Clark),  224,  225  ;  Persian 
Gulf  Cable,  design  and  construction 
of,  225-231  ;  laying  the  different 
sections,  232-255  ;  banquet  to  com- 
memorate success  of  undertaking, 
255  ;  erecting  the  land-line  con- 
necting links,  256-260  ;  retrospection 
and  reminiscences,  261-264  ;  Bright 
contributes  paper  on  the  undertaking 
to  the  Institution  of  Civil  Engineers, 
1868  ;  further  land-line  system  (of 
Indo-European  Telegraph  Co.)  es- 
tablished 1868,  260 

INDIA  AND  THE  EAST,  Bright  works  in 
Parliament  at  improving  telegraphic 
and  postal  communication  with, 
283  ;  serves  on  House  of  Commons 
Select  Committee  for,  285 

Messrs.  Bright  &  Clark  report  on 
Hooper's  improved  method,  281 

formation  and  objects  of,  260 

Bright's  paper  on  "  The  Telegraph 
to  India,  and  its  extension  to  Aus- 
tralia and  China,"  261  ;  obituary 
notice  in  proceedings — a  tribute  to 
Bright — regarding  his  Atlantic  Cable 
and  other  engineering  work,  138 

EERS, Bright  elected  President  of, 
418  ;  tribute  to  Bright  and  con- 
dolence with  family  on  occasion  of 
death,  419  ;  Council  attend  funeral, 
419,  444 

INSULATOR,  Bright's  porcelain,  n  ; 
universally  adopted,  u  ;  testimony 
of  Lord  Kelvin  to  merit  of,  n  ; 
terminal,  or  shackle,  n  ;  its  appli- 
cation, 12 

INVENTIONS,  Bright's  summary  of  (see 

IRELAND,  first  effective  cable  to,  laid 
by  Bright,  1853,  26-30  ;  design  and 
manufacture  of,  27,  28  ;  laying,  28, 
29,  30  ;  Kelvin's  tribute  to  Bright 
in  this  regard  as  "  the  first  to  lay  a 
cable  in  really  deep  water,"  27 

JARDINE,    Mr.   DAVID   JARDINE,    mar- 
ried to  Bright's  second  daughter,  426 



KELVIN,  LORD,  F.R.S.  (Prof.  William 
Thomson),  director  of  Atlantic  Tele- 
graph Co.,  45  ;  accompanies  First 
Atlantic  Cable  expeditions,  66,  89, 
92  ;  tribute  to  Bright,  when  laying 
the  Anglo-Irish  Cable  (1853)  as  "  the 
first  to  lay  a  cable  in  really  deep 
water,"  27  ;  tribute  to  Bright  as 
pioneer  of  ocean  cable- laying,  33,  158 
(note),  420  ;  on  theory  of  electrically 
working  long  cables,  48  ;  on  type  of 
core  required  for  working  Atlantic 
Cable,  48  ;  counsels  renewed  efforts 
after  1858  failure,  117  ;  electrical 
testing  and  signalling  apparatus, 
87  ;  use  of  same  on  First  Atlantic 
Cable,  151,  1 60,  161  ;  reports  jointly 
with  Bright  on  subsequent  electrical 
condition  of  First  Atlantic  Cable, 
162  ;  on  use  of  excessive  power,  166  ; 
consulting  expert,  1865  expedition, 
182  ;  electrical  adviser  to  "  Atlan- 
tic "  Co.,  1866,  188  ;  improves  his 
signalling  apparatus  for  working 
Second  Atlantic  Cable,  192  ;  tribute 
to  Bright  as  originator  of  system  of 
electrical  nomenclature  and  measure- 
ment for  electrical  standards  and 
units,  213  (note) 

KING,  MERVYN,  Mr.,  married  to 
Bright's  eldest  daughter,  426 

KNIGHTHOOD,  conferred  on  Bright, 
145  ;  ceremony  of,  146  (note)  ; 
record  youthfulness  at  time  of,  146 

LAMBERT,  Mr.  FRANK,  for  Messrs. 
Bright  &  Clark,  testing  Persian  Gulf 
Cable,  228  ;  arid  1865  and  1866 
Atlantic  Cables,  194 

LAMPSON,  Mr.  C.  M.  (Sir  Curtis,  Bart.) 
and  Atlantic  Telegraph  Co.,  45,  117, 

LAWS,  Mr.  J.  C.,  on  Electrical  Staff, 
First  Atlantic  Cable  expeditions,  66, 
89,  143  ;  representing  Messrs.  Bright 
&  Clark,  tests  Persian  Gulf  Cable, 
228  ;  also,  in  same  capacity,  1866 
Atlantic  Cable,  188 

LIBRARY,  Bright's,  371 

LIGHTING,  ELECTRIC,  early  experi- 
ments with,  399  ;  Government  Bill 
of  1882,  401  ;  Bright's  improve- 
ments in,  402  (see  also  Appendix)  ; 
British  Electric  Light  Co.,  Bright 
Consulting  Engineer  to,  399  ;  St. 
James'  &  Pall  Mall  Electric  Light 
Co.,  Bright  Consulting  Engineer  to, 
408  ;  Bright's  letter  to  The  Times 
on,  402  ;  select  committee  on,  405  ; 
Bright  advises  City  of  Bristol  con- 
cerning scheme  for  utilising  water 
power  (of  the  river  Avon),  for,  405 

tent (see  Appendix) 

LOG,  SHIP'S,  patent,  by  Bright,  58 

Bright  reports  on  and  specifies  for, 

MCCLINTOCK,  Capt.,  R.N.  (Admiral  Sir 
Leopold  McClintock,  K.C.B.,  LL.D., 
F.R.S.),  survey  for  North  Atlantic 
Telegraph  project,  171 

Bright  joins  and  becomes  Engineer- 
in-Chief  to,  n  ;  improvements  in 
telegraph  apparatus  by  Bright,  for, 
13,  21  ;  Bright  establishes  extensive 
system  of  wires  for,  13-18  ;  Bright's 
underground  system  for,  15  ;  ab- 
sorbs British  Telegraph  Co.,  becom- 
ing British  and  Irish  Magnetic 
Telegraph  Co.,  25  ;  success  of,  25  ; 
Bright  retires  from  post  of  Engineer 
and  becomes  Consulting  Engineer, 
25,  209  ;  banquet  and  testimonial  to 
Bright  on  said  occasion,  210  ;  change 
underground  system  to  overhead,2io 

MANCE,  Mr.  (now  Sir  H.  C.  Mance, 
C.I.E.  M.Inst.C.E.),  electrician  to 
Indian  Government  Telegraphs,  tri- 
bute to  Bright  as  "  pioneer  of 
oceanic  telegraphy,"  420 

MARRIAGE,  Bright's,  19 

MESSAGES,  early,  by  First  Atlantic 
Cable  (1858),  137  ;  first  clear  mes- 
sage from  Newfoundland,  151  ;  rate 
of  same,  151  (note)  ;  text  of,  be- 
tween directors  in  England  and 
America,  151  ;  text  of,  between 
Queen  Victoria  and  President  of 
United  States,  151,  152  ;  further 
early  use  of  cable,  154  ;  first  public 
news  message,  155  ;  saving  effected 
by  single  message,  156  ;  for  military 
transport  of  troops,  156  ;  last  word 
before  gradual  failure  of  line,  156  ; 
Second  and  Third  Atlantic  Cables 
(1865-6),  message  sent  from  Liver- 
pool to  Washington  on  occasion  of 
banquet  to  celebrate  success,  194 

MINES,  Bright's  association  with,  378  ; 
Valgodemard  (S.  France),  378  ;  New 
Mansfield  Co.'s,  Klausthal  (Ger- 
many), 379  ;  Croscombe  (Somerset- 
shire), 379  ;  Kucaina  (Servia), 381-387 

MORIARTY,  Capt.  H.  A.,  R.N.,  C.B., 
navigating  master  of  Agamemnon, 
First  Atlantic  Cable  expedition.  66, 
88  ;  Navigator,  Second  and  Third 
Atlantic  Cable  Expeditions,  182,  188 

characterises  First  Atlantic  Cable, 
"  the  great  feat  of  the  century,"  32  ; 
reports  in  favour  of  small  core  for 
cable,  48  ;  accompanies  First  Atlan- 
tic Cable  Expedition,  66  ;  views  on 
electric  signalling  through  long  in- 
sulated wires,  160 ;  message  of 
greeting  to  Bright  and  others  con- 
cerned with  Atlantic  Cable,  at 
banquet  of  1866,  281 



MUIRHEAD,  Messrs.  John  and  Alexan- 
der, inventors  of  system  of  electri- 
cally duplexing  cables,  412  ;  Bright 
reports  on  infringement  of  their 
duplex  patent,  412  ;  Bright  associated 
with,  over  electric  light  work,  402 

NEWALL,  Messrs.  R.  S.,  &  Co.,  manu- 
facturers of  Anglo-Irish  Cable  (1853), 
28  ;  manufacturers  of  half  First 
Atlantic  Cable,  50 

Niagara,  U.S.N.S.,  sent  from  America 
to  take  half  First  Atlantic  Cable  and 
assist  in  laying  same,  56 

PARIS,  International  Electrical  Exhi- 
bition, 414  ;  Bright  represents 
Great  Britain  at,  as  Commissioner, 
appointed  by  Foreign  Office,  415 

PARLIAMENT,  Bright  elected  a  member 
of,  274  ;  Bright's  activity  in,  274, 
300  ;  serves  on  House  of  Commons 
Committees,  283-289 

PAYING-OUT,  Anglo-Irish  Cable  (1853), 
apparatus  for,  29  ;  First  Atlantic 
Cable,  1857  expedition,  apparatus 
for,  58  ;  First  Atlantic  Cable,  1858 
expeditions,  apparatus  for,  76-81  ; 
decision  to  pay  out  Atlantic  Cable 
from  two  ships  starting  in  mid- 
ocean,  88  ;  Bright  tests  arrange- 
ments for  paying  out  said  cable  in 
course  of  "  trial  trip,"  89-91  ; 
apparatus  fitted  on  board  Great 
Eastern  for  Second  and  Third  Atlantic 
Cables  of  1865-6,  181 

PEDIGREE  of  Yorkshire  Brights,  3 

PENDER,  Mr.  (Sir  John,  G.C.M.G., 
M.P.),  A  Director  of  "  Magnetic  " 
and  "  Atlantic "  Telegraph  Com- 
panies, 45  ;  Chairman,  Telegraph 
Construction  and  Maintenance  Co., 
and  joint  guarantor  of  Second  Atlan- 
tic Cable,  178;  takes  leading  part 
in  commercial  development  and  ex- 
tension of  submarine  telegraphy,  296 

PERSIAN  GULF  CABLE,  1853-4  (see  also 
under  India,  Telegraph  to),  "  The 
pioneer  Cable,  electrically  speak- 
ing," 219  ;  importance  of,  in  history 
of  submarine  telegraphy,  261,  262  ; 
design  and  construction  of,  225-230  ; 
improved  conductor  and  insulator, 
226,  227 ;  improved  manufacture, 
229-231  ;  elaborate,  improved,  sys- 
tem of  electrical  testing  adopted, 
227-229  ;  Bright  supervises  the  laying 
of  sections  from  sailing  ships,  235- 
255  ;  landing  cable  in  mud,  247  ; 
flag  and  lamp  signalling  introduced 
for  cable-laying  operations,  238,  413 

PHONOPORE,  Langdon-Davies',  413  ; 
Bright  acts  as  first  President  of 
Syndicate,  413 

Bright's  impromptu,  for  recovering 

part  of  First  Atlantic  Cable,  74,  75  ; 
improved  gear  fitted  to  Great 
Eastern  for  Second  and  Third  Atlantic 
Cable  Expeditions,  186,  187 

"  PLATEAU,"  supposed  "  Telegraphic," 
for  Atlantic  Cable,  35 

POLITICS,  part  taken  by  Bright  in, 
265-275  ;  Bright's  views  in  (see  his 
Election  Address),  268  ;  Bright's 
activity  in  House  of  Commons,  274, 

POSTS,  aerial  telegraph,  Bright's  sys- 
tem of,  12 

PREECE,  Mr.  W.  H.  (now  Sir  William 
Preece,  K.C.B.,  F.R.S.),  paper  on 
"  The  Maintenance  and  Durability 
of  Submarine  Cables  in  Shallow 
Waters,"  207 ;  Bright  discusses 
same,  208 

PRESS,  Newspaper,  British  and  Ameri- 
can, enthusiasm  of,  over  successful 
laying  of  First  Atlantic  Cable,  142, 


PROJECTS,  unrealized,  Grand  North 
Atlantic  telegraph,  167  ;  South  At- 
lantic telegraph,  175  ;  intermediate 
route,  176 

RAILWAY  COMPANIES,  arbitration  with 

Post  Office  authorities,  Bright  gives 

evidence  for,  in,  376 
RECREATIONS,  Bright's,  427 
REFORM   CLUB,    Bright   frequenter   of, 

REPORTS,     by     Bright     on,     Mackay- 

Bennett     Atlantic     Cable     schemes, 

411  ;    Ailhaud's  Duplex  Telegraphy 
as     infringing     Muirhead's     system, 

412  ;     Langdon  Davies'    Phonopore, 

gineer to,  408 

SAUTY,  Mr.  C.  V.  de,  First  Atlantic 
Cable,  1857-8  ;  association  with,  66, 
89,  143  ;  chief  electrician,  Second 
Atlantic  (1865)  Cable  Expedition, 

goes  to,  4  ;  Bright  represents,  at 
Racquets  and  Rowing,  4 


SHACKLES,  Bright's  Telegraph,  n,  12 
(see  also  Appendix) 

SHAFFNER,  Col.,  T.  P.,  promoter  of 
North  Atlantic  Telegraph  Route, 

SHOOTING,  Bright's  taste  for,  427 

SIEMENS  BROTHERS,  Messrs.,  early 
electric  lighting  machines,  400 

SIEMENS  AND  HALSKE,  Messrs.,  electri- 
cians to  "  Red  Sea  "  Cable,  220 

SILICA,  incorporated  in  Bright's  Cable 
Compound  as  protection  against 
teredo  (auger  worm),  225 



SILVERTOWN  (India- Rubber,  Gutta- 
Percha  and  Telegraph  Works)  COM- 
PANY, Bright's  association  with,  310 

SMITH,  Mr.  WILLOUGHBY,  Chief  Elec- 
trician to  contractors,  1866  Atlantic 
Cable,  187,  188 

SOUNDING,  First  Atlantic  Cable  Route, 
34  ;  method  of,  34  ;  results  of,  35 

SPLICE,  mid-ocean,  First  Atlantic  Cable 
(1858),  89,  90 

STANDARDS  of  electrical  measurements, 
formulation  of,  Bright's  association 
with,  213 

STEWART,  Col.  PATRICK,  R.E.,  ap- 
pointed director,  Persian  Gulf  Cable 
line,  224  ;  travels  with  Bright  over- 
land to  India,  231  ;  death  of,  257  ; 
Bright's  tribute  to,  258 

STORM,  H.M.S.  Agamemnon  in,  239 

STUART- WORTLEY,  Right  Hon.  James, 
M.P.,  chairman  of  "  Atlantic  "  Tele- 
graph Co.,  45  ;  on  cause  of  break- 
down first  Atlantic  Cable  (1858),  166 

working  arrangements  with  "  Mag- 
netic "  Co.,  25  ;  Bright's  association 
with,  effected  by  State  absorption, 

TAYLOR,  Mr.  ROBERT  JOHN,  brother- 
in-law  to  Bright,  accompanies  First 
Atlantic  Cable  Expedition  (1857), 
66  ;  stays  with  Bright  in  Servia,  384 

TAYLOR,  Miss,  married  to  Bright,  19 

TENANCE COMPANY,  THE,  promoters 
and  contractors  of  Second  and  Third 
Atlantic  Cables  (1865-6),  178,  182, 
184,  188,  195  ;  contractors  to  Anglo- 
Mediterranean  and  other  eastern 
Cables,  292,  297 

TELEGRAPHS,  Land  systems  transferred 
to  State,  373  ;  Act  of  1868,  299,  373  ; 
Purchase  and  Regulations  Act  of 
1869,  373  ;  Bright  protests  against 
Government  haste  in  matter,  374 

TELEPHONY,  Bright's  association  with, 
397  ;  Bright  acts  as  expert  witness 
for  the  Post  Office  versus  the  Edison 
Telephone  Co.,  398 

TEMPLE,  Mr.  JOHN,  secretary  to 
Bright,  182  ;  with  Atlantic  Cable 
Expeditions  of  1865  and  1866,  182, 

TESTING,  Electrical,  Bright's  early  pa- 
tent for,  8  ;  elaborate  system  of, 
applied  by  Bright  to  First  Persian 
Gulf  Cable  (1863),  227-229 

Kelvin,  Lord) 

Times,  The,  leading  article  on  Bright's 
work  of  laying  of  Manchester  under- 
ground wires,  16  ;  speaks  of  the 
First  Atlantic  Cable  as  "The  accom- 
plishment of  the  age,"  32  ;  realistic 
description  of  Agamemnon  in  storm, 

93  ;    account  of  expedition  of  July 
I7th    1858,   ii8;  leading  article  on 
completion  of  First  Atlantic  Cable 
A*?  ',M2;    represented  on  Second 
Atlantic  Cable  Expeditions,  183 

TOUR,  in  Pullman  Car,  Bright  accom- 
panies, 432 

TRANSLATOR  (or  "  Repeater "),  Tele- 
graphic, Bright's  patent,  12 

UNDERGROUND  Cables,  "  Magnetic  " 
Company's  system  of,  established  by 
Bright,  13-18 

UNITS,  electrical,  formulation  and 
nomenclature  of,  Bright's  pioneer 
work  in,  213,  214;  Lord  Kelvin's 
tribute  to  Bright,  213  ;  universal 
adoption  of  Messrs.  Bright  &  Clark's 
suggestions,  214 

F.R.S.,  on  cause  of  breakdown  of 
First  Atlantic  Cable  (1858),  162,  165  ; 
becomes  electrician  to  Atlantic  Co.,' 
162  (note)  ;  accompanies  Second  and 
Third  Atlantic  Cable  Expeditions 
(1865-6),  182,  188 

VOLUNTEERING,  Bright's  association 
with  the  movement,  423  ;  holds 
commission  in  corps,  423 

WALES,  H.R.H.  the  Prince  of  (now 
H.M.  The  King),  Bright  shows  con- 
struction of  Atlantic  Cable,  52  ;  Bright 
conducts  over  Paris  Exhibition,  417 

WEATHER  REPORTS,  Bright's  early 
work  in  telegraphing,  20 

WEBB,  Mr.F.C.,  M.Inst.C.E..  Assistant 
Engineer  onFirst(i857)  Atlantic  Cable 
Expedition,  151  ;  Chief  Engineering 
Assistant  to  Messrs.  Bright  &  Clark, 
Persian  Gulf  Cables,  230  ;  graceful 
tribute  to,  and  recollections  of, 
Bright,  262-264 

C.E.,  Bright's  association  with,  378 

WEST  INDIAN  CABLES  (1869-72),  305- 
372  ;  over  4,000  miles  in  all,  313  ; 
types  adopted  for,  313  ;  manufac- 
ture at  Silvertown  Works,  313  ; 
s.s.  Dacia  fitted  out  by  Bright  for 
laying  the  cables,  310,  312  ;  much 
trouble  over  laying,  due  to  factory 
faults  and  bad  sea-bottom,  316,  318  ; 
much  grappling  and  many  repairs, 
317,  318  ;  unhealthy  conditions, 
much  sickness  and  many  deaths, 
305  ;  permanent  injury  to  Bright's 
health,  360  (note) 

WHEATSTONE,  Professor,  F.R.S.  (Sir 
Charles),  on  excessive  charges  used 
for  working  First  Atlantic  Cable, 



WILDMAN,  40  ;  appointed  electrician  Cable  Expeditions  (1857-8),  51,  89, 

to  "  Atlantic  "   Telegraph  Co.,   46  ;  92,  143 
electrical  experiments  and  researches 

by,  40,  48  ;    mistaken  views  of,  48  ;  YACHT  CLUB,  Royal  Thames  :   Bright's 

counsels   each   ship   laying   part    of  favourite    Club    resort,   438  ;    races, 

First  Atlantic  Cable  in  turn,  58  ;    in  439 

electrical  charge  at  Irish  end,  being  YACHTING,  Bright's  fondness  for,  430- 
unable  to  accompany  expeditions,  431  ;  with  Capt.  Cosby  Lovett,  430  ; 
58,  66,  88,  92  ;  prepares  for  first  and  Mr.  J.  B.  Saunders,  431 
message  through  entire  Atlantic  YOUTHFULNESS,  Bright's,  as  an  in- 
Cable,  137  ;  detector  of,  used,  149  ;  ventor,  8  ;  when  Engineer  to  "  Mag- 
excessive  currents  employed  by,  151,  netic  Co.,"  n  ;  when  Engineer  to 
160,  161  Atlantic  Co.,  46  ;  when  knighted  for 
WOODHOUSE,  Mr.  WILLIAM  HENRY,  laying  the  First  Atlantic  Cable,  146  ; 
Assistant  Engineer,  First  Atlantic  as  Member  of  Parliament,  274,  304 

Butler  &  Tanner,  The  Sehvood  Printing  Works,  Frome, 

and  London. 

Some   Press   Notices  of  the  Original 

"  Will  be  generally  welcomed  as  a  worthy  and  needed  memorial  of  one 
of  the  foremost  figures  of  a  superlatively  great  period  of  engineering 
progress." — The  Times. 

"  Presents  the  career  of  a  famous  Englishman  with  all  the  charm  of 
simplicity  and  enthusiasm." — Morning  Post. 

"  These  volumes,  whilst  dealing  with  some  of  the  most  notable  of  Vic- 
torian performances  in  science,  will  serve  to  keep  alive  the  memory  of  a 
truly  distinguished  man." — The  Globe. 

"  Not  only  of  interest  to  the  general  reader,  but  of  value  to  the  profession 
of  which  Sir  Charles  Bright  was  one  of  the  chief  pioneers." — Westminster 

"  Sir  Charles  Bright's  life,  though  not  long,  was  so  full  of  great 
achievements  and  interesting  adventure  that  it  well  deserved  a  careful — 
even  minute — record." — Manchester  Guardian. 

"  These  two  volumes  are  the  story  writ  large,  but  not  too  large." — 
The  Spectator. 

"  Though  dying  at  the  early  age  of  fifty-six,  he  really  '  fulfilled  a  long 
time,'  if  we  reckon  by  the  amount  of  his  prof essional  and  scientific  work  of 
world-wide  importance." — Saturday  Review. 

"  The  book  is  a  monumental  tribute  to  the  memory  of  a  man  who  must 
have  inspired  his  companions  with  strong  affection  and  admiration.  The 
book  is  fully  illustrated,  and  maps,  plans,  sections,  portraits,  and  other 
illustrations  greatly  enhance  its  value." — The  Athenceum. 

"  Sir  Charles  Bright  was  truly  a  wonderful  man,  and  it  is  well  that  the 
facts  of  his  career  should  be  published.  It  makes  us  proud  of  our  race  to 
read  again  the  story  of  his  early  life." — Engineering. 

"  Sir  Charles,  with  his  extremely  keen,  alert,  and  agile  mind,  full  of 
expedient  and  resource,  his  thorough  workmanship  in  every  detail  and 
his  restless  energy,  was  marked  out  for  a  telegraph  engineer,  though  he 
might  equally  have  distinguished  himself  in  any  other  line." — The 

"  A  fitting  memorial  of  one  of  the  earliest,  most  popular  and  most 
eminent  of  electrical  pioneers." — The  Electrician. 

"  The  book  is  a  very  human  document.  It  is  at  once  a  book  of  travel 
and  adventure,  a  record  of  active  and  earnest  achievement,  a  history  of 
the  youth  of  a  mighty  scientific  industry,  and  a  mine  of  information  on 
the  technical  features  of  early  electrical  engineering.  Every  electrical 
engineer  who  has  difficulties  to  overcome  himself  will  find  encouragement 
and  suggestion  in  reading  how  Bright  overcame  his.  The  book  is  illus- 
trated with  illustrations  that  really  illustrate— sketches  of  cable  operations, 
machinery,  etc. — while  every  telegraph  man  will  find  here  a  record  of  both 
the  human  and  the  scientific  sides  "of  land  and  sea  telegraphy  that  will 
do  his  heart  and  his  brain  good  to  read."— Electrical  World  and  Engineer 
(New  York}. 


One  Volume,  Super-royal  octavo,  nearly  800  pages,  with  about  300 
Illustrations,  Maps,  and  Diagrams,  £3  35.  net. 

Submarine    Telegraphs 

Their  History,  Construction  and 

Together  with  an  Appendix  on  "  Wireless "  Telegraphy 

Compiled  from  Authoritative  and  Exclusive  Sources 


A.M.lNST.C.E.,  M.I.MECH.E.,  M.I.E.E. 

Extracts  from  Notices  of  the  Press. 

"  Upon  his  task  Mr.  Bright  has  bestowed  untiring  pains.  With  an 
inborn  love  of  the  subject  he  has  recorded  every  minutest  detail  of  infor- 
mation connected  with  the  design,  construction,  laying  and  failure  of  the 
first  Channel  and  Atlantic  Cables,  and  has  throughout  the  work  traced 
with  rare  impartiality  the  impress  of  Wheatstone,  Morse,  Siemens,  Lord 
Kelvin,  Sir  Charles  Bright,  and  the  host  of  great  minds,  upon  the  final 
evolution  of  modern  telegraphy." — The  Times. 

"  Mr.  Bright  has  a  good  right  to  deal  with  this  subject.  ...  He  has 
recorded  the  history  of  submarine  telegraphy  in  a  very  lucid  and  interest- 
ing way." — The  Spectator. 

"  The  author  deals  with  his  subject  from  all  points  of  view — political 
and  strategical  as  well  as  scientific.  The  work  will  be  of  interest,  not  only 
to  men  of  science,  but  to  the  general  public.  We  can  strongly  recommend 
it." — The  Athenceum. 

"  This  book  is  full  of  information.  It  makes  a  book  of  reference  which 
should  be  in  every  engineer's  library.  Mr.  Bright  has  executed  his  task 
in  an  impartial  and  disinterested  way,  and  he  has  marshalled  his  facts  with 
much  clearness." — Nature. 

"  There  are  few,  if  any,  persons  more  fitted  to  write  a  treatise  on  sub- 
marine telegraphy  than  Mr.  Charles  Bright.  The  author  has  done  his 
work  admirably,  and  has  written  in  a  way  which  will  appeal  as  much  to  the 
layman  as  to  the  engineer.  .  .  .  This  admirable  volume  must,  for  many 
years  to  come,  hold  the  position  of  the  English  classic  on  submarine  tele- 
graphy. It  is  crowded  with  useful  information." — The  Engineer. 

"  Mr.  Bright 's  interestingly  written  and  admirably  illustrated  book 
will  meet  with  a  welcome  reception  from  cable  men."— The  Electrician. 


220  pages,  45  illustrations,   is. 

The  Story  of  the  Atlantic  Cable 

CHARLES    BRIGHT,    F.R.S.E.,    M.I.E.E. 

Opinions    of   the    Press. 

"  The  author  is  well  known  not  only  as  the  historian  of  submarine  telegraphy  but  also  as  one 
of  the  leading  authorities  who  have  helped  to  make  the  history  which  he  so  lucidly  records  "— 
The  Times. 

"  The  book  is  good  reading  throughout,  the  enormous  difficulties  attendant  on  the  work  in 
early  days  being  graphically  described." — Morning  Post. 

"  Mr.  Charles  Bright,  F.R.S.E.,  in  this  brightly-written  little  volume  re-tells  the  thrilling  story 
which  shows  what  can  be  done  by  enterprising  youth." — Daily  Telegraph. 

"  A  romance  of  science  truly  ;  'and  none  can  be  better  qualified  to  tell  it  than  the  author  of 
this  fascinating  book." — The  Standard. 

"  The  story  was  worth  re-telling  and  Mr.  Charles  Bright  was  the  man  to  re-tell  it,  as  he  is  him- 
self an  electrician  who  has  specialised  in  the  laying  of  submarine  cables." — Daily  Graphic. 

"  Mr.  Charles  Bright  has  treated  his  subject  in  a  popular  and  attractive  manner,  avoiding 
technical  language  as  far  as  possible."— Daily  Mail. 

"  The  author,  who  is  commonly  regarded  as  the  historian  of  submarine  telegraphy,  has  here 
given  the  narrative  of  a  great  achievement  in  a  strikingly  interesting  manner.  The  man  who 
ultimately  achieved  the  laying  of  the  cable  was  the  late  Sir  Charles  Tilston  Bright — father  to 
the  author — at  the  age  of  twenty-six,  whereupon  he  became  the  youngest  knight  on  record."— 
Daily  Chronicle. 

"  It  is  a  useful  memento  of  the  difficulties  attending  a  great  enterprise  and  of  the  faith  and 
perseverance  which  eventually  surmounted  them  after  a  series  of  heart-breaking  failures.  A 
truly  wonderful  story." — Pall  Matt  Gazette. 

"  The  story  is  well  told,  and  not  merely  to  people  of  scientific  pursuits  will  this  record  of  momen- 
tous achievements  appeal.  All  who  admire  courage,  perseverance,  patience  and  fertility  of 
resource  will  be  enthralled.  No  romance  could  excite  the  emotions  or  call  up  more  enthusiasm 
than  the  book  before  us." — St.  James's  Gazette. 

"  Mr.  Bright  tells  the  story  in  a  manner  that  brings  home  to  us  the  heroism  of  the  projectors 
of  a  great  pioneer  work.  The  account  of  this  unrivalled  enterprise  is  worthily  represented  in 
this  little  book  and  should  inspire  many  a  young  mind  to  overcome  obstacles  in  the  way  of 
doing  things." — T  e  Spectator. 

"  The  story  of  the  laying  of  the  early  Atlantic  cables  is  one  of  veritable  romance.  It  is  told 
here  with  skill  and  sympathy." — Saturday  Review. 

"  Mr.  Charles  Bright  is  by  hereditary  right  and  scientific  attainment  an  excellent  authority 
on  the  story  of  the  Atlantic  cable,  so  we  welcome  his  little  book,  which  tells  well  the  wonderful 
persistence  and  enterprise  which  led  to  an  important  factor  in  world-connections." — The  Atlunceum. 

"  This  little  work  is  crammed  with  information  most  clearly  set  out,  and  has  in  parts  all  the 
enthral  nent  of  a  romance." — The  Academy. 

"-The  story  is  extremely  well  told  by  Charles  Bright  and  reads  like  romance."— The  World. 

"  This  is  a  well-written  and  popular  account  of  a  great  work  which  provides  all  the  elements 
of  real  romance — the  struggle  in  the  face  of  unending  difficulties  and  disappointments,  the  failures 
when  within  an  inch  of  success,  the  dramatic  triumph  in  the  end." — Truth. 

"  This  little  volume  is  excellent  in  every  respect." — Nature. 

"  For  the  manner  in  which  the  thousand  and  one  difficulties  in  this  great  undertaking  were 
surmounted,  we  warmly  commend  our  readers  to  Mr.  Bright's  interesting  and  accurate  pages."— 

"  The  narrative  is  one  of  intense  interest,  and  is  moulded  into  an  agreeable  form.     It  is  well 
worthy  of  perusal  by  those  who  wish  to  pass  a  few  hours  in  reading  of  the  heroic  deeds  of  01 
forerunners. ' ' — Electrical  Review. 

"  The  book  could  have  been  entrusted  to  no  more  capable  hands  than  the  author  of  6«ft-. 
marine  Telegraphs,  the  standard  work  on  the  subject.  While  written  in  a  popular  way,  students 
will  tmd  here  many  useful  particulars  regarding  the  construction,  laying  and  electrical  working 
of  cables,  and  every  telegraphist  should  have  a  copy."— Electricity. 

"  Mr.  Charles  Bright's  '  Story  of  the  Atlantic  Cable  '  forms  one  of  the  most  readable  numbers  of 
a  most  readable  series." — Electrical  Industries. 

"  As  one  of  the  leading  authorities  of  the  world  on  submarine  telegraphy,  Mr.  Bnsrht  is  pre- 
eminently the  man  of  all  men  to  write  this  history  of  his  father's  great  achievement,  and  I 
has  written  it  succinctly  and  well."— Electrical  Engineer  of  New  York. 



Demy  octavo,  is. 

Imperial   Preferential  Policy 



Vice-President}Tariff  Reform  League,  Paddington  Branch  ; 

Author  of  "Submarine    Telegraphs,"   "The 

Locomotion  Problem,"   "  A    Plea  for  a 

National  Pattv,"1  etc. 

Press    Opinions. 

"  The  arguments  are  well  and  cogently  drawn  up." — The  Times. 

"  Mr.  Charles  Bright,  F.R.S.E.,  has  republished  a  series  of  excellent  addresses  on  the  subject 
of  '  Imperial  Preferential  Policy,'  delivered  by  him  on  behalf  of  the  Tariff  Reform  League  during 
the  past  two  years." — Morning  Post. 

"  These  addresses  embody  a  plain,  straightforward  exposition  of  the  principles  underlying 
Mr.  Chamberlain's  policy  none  the  less  cogent  because  they  are  devoid  of  rhetorical  embellish- 
ments, and  refreshingly  free  from  the  invective  common  with  the  party  politician.  With  these 
merits,  the  volume  is  likely  to  win  many  readers  and  converts." — Daily  Telegraph. 

"  Mr.  Bright's  views  are  most  concisely  stated  in  his  concluding  reflection  that  the  real  issue 
in  the  controversy  is  the  federation  of  our  Empire  rather  than  that  of  Free  Trade  versus  Pro- 
tection."— Daily  Graphic. 

"  These  lectures  set  out  in  a  very  clear,  fair  and  interesting  way  the  main  arguments  on  both 
sides  of  the  controversy,  giving  a  useful  outline  of  the  question  in  a  popular  form  and  within  a 
reasonable  compass." — Daily  Mail. 

"  An  armament  of  arguments  for  Tariff  Reformers  is  to  be  found  in  a  small  shilling  volume 
entitled  Imperial  Preferential  Policy,  by  Mr.  Charles  Bright,  F.R.S.E.,  the  well-known  en- 
gineer."— Evening  Standard. 

"  Mr.  Bright  writes  with  studied  moderation  and  good  sense  ;  and  the  fact  that  he  does  not 
disregard  arguments  that  might  be  held  to  confute,  or  weaken,  his  own  entitles  him  to  considera- 
tion apart  from,  and  superior  to,  all  party  prejudice." — The  Globe. 

"  His  treatment  is  invested  with  individual  cogency  and  freshness." — Pall  Mall  Gazette. 

"  Like  everything  else  in  the  nature  of  book-work  that  has  come  under  our  notice  from  the 
pen  of  Mr.  Charles  Bright,  it  leaves  us  with  the  impression  of  being  thorough,  painstaking,  based 
upon  wide  and  appropriate  reading,  and,  so  far  as  it  goes,  the  book  upon  its  particular  topic."— 
The  Observer. 

"  Mr.  Charles  Bright  has  republished  in  book  form  a  series  of  excellent  and  persuasive  addresses 
on  the  subject  of  '  Imperial  Preferential  Policy  '  delivered  by  him  on  behalf  of  the  Tariff  Reform 
League  during  the  past  two  years."— The  World. 

"  The  volume  will  be  found  a  very  valuable  addition  to  the  literature  of  the  Fiscal  Question, 
comprising  as  it  does  a  general  survey  of  the  main  arguments  both  for  and  against  Imperial 
Preference." — Saturday  Review. 

"  The  arguments  on  both  sides  are  ably  handled  ;  and,  perhaps,  no  more  lucid  work  on  the 
subject  has  been  given  to  the  public." — The  Outlook. 

"  The  publication  of  these  addresses  is  more  than  justified,  for  the  author— a  great  authority 
on  certain  aspects  of  industry  and  Imperialism — handles  his  subject  with  great  ability  and  per- 
spicuity. Mr.  Bright  has  here  contrived  to  compress  a  great  deal  of  information  into  a  com- 
paratively small  compass." — The  Statist. 

"  To  all  who  wish  to  gain  quickly  an  intelligent  appreciation  of  the  new  cause  we  can  cor- 
dially commend  Mr.  Bright's  book."— Magazine  of  Commerce. 

"  His  work  is  commendably  free  from  the  personal  note  that  disfigures  so  much  controversial 
literature.  — Commercial  Intelligence. 

"Mr.  Bright's  volume  will  be  found  to  contain  a  most  useful  summary  of  the  arguments  on 
both  sides  of  a  question  which  is  of  the  greatest  practical  importance.  It  will  be  a  time-saver 
to  any  one  who  is  anxious  to  get  the  gist  of  the  matter  without  digging  laboriouslv  through  blue 
books  and  political  speeches."— Electrical  Industries. 


Demy  octavo,  is.  net. 

The    Locomotion   Problem 


CHARLES   BRIGHT,    F.R.S.E.,    M.I.E.E., 

Author  of    "Submarine  Telegraphs,"  "The  Life  of 

Sir  Charles  Bright,"   "  The  Story  of  the  Atlantic 

Cable,"  "Science  and  Engineering  during 

the     Victorian    Era,"    and    "Imperial 

Preferential  Policy." 

Press    Opinions. 

"  This  little  book  contains  a  great  deal  of  information,  and  the  whole  forms  a 
very  interesting  discussion  of  one  of  the  most  important  of  present-day  subjects." 
— The  Times. 

"  Mr.  Charles  Bright's  little  volume  may  profitably  be  read  by  any  one  interested 
in  this  topic — and  who  nowadays  is  not  ?  " — Daily  Telegraph. 

"  Mr.  Bright  has  considerable  acquaintance  with  the  subject  in  its  various 
aspects,  and  the  reader  will  find  most  of  its  more  important  questions  fully  and 
ably  discussed." — Morning  Post. 

"  Mr.  Charles  Bright,  F.R.S.E.,  considers  in  an  interesting  brochure,  'The  Loco- 
motion Problem,'  the  new  circumstances  that  have  arisen  from  the  growing 
vogue  of  the  petroleum  and  electrically  propelled  vehicle  and  their  probable 
economic  effects." — The  Standard. 

"  Here  we  have  an  examination  extremely  interesting  at  the  present  time  when 
the  congested  traffic  of  London  is  the  subject  of  many  theories  and  many  reme- 
dies, and  Mr.  Bright  considers  the  questions  involved  with  the  knowledge  of  an 
expert  rather  than  a  theorist." — Daily  Mail. 

"  Though  the  Motor  Car  Act  has  since  been  in  active  operation,  and  though 
progress  has  since  been  made  in  the  practical  realization  of  public  automobiles 
and  tube  railways,  there  is  no  change  in  the  general  situation  such  as  would 
render  these  lectures  out  of  date  at  the  present  time." — The  Observer. 

"Mr.  Charles  Bright,  F.R.S.E.,  is  peculiarly  qualified  by  training,  knowledge  of 
affairs  and  natural  bent,  to  review  the  locomotion  question  in  the  broad  light  of 
the  country  at  large,  and  this  little  volume  will  be  found  pregnant  with  ideas  and 
eminently  practical." — Sunday  Times. 

"  Mr.  Bright  surveys  the  whole  field  and  shows  himself  superior  to  prejudice; 
but  at  the  same  time  he  does  not  shrink  from  advocacy  of  what  he  believes  is  best, 
and  also  likeliest,  to  occur.  As  a  sportsman — being  a  member  of  the  Leander 
Club,  still  keeping  wicket  for  the  M.C.C..  and  formerly  a  member  of  the  Committee 
of  the  All  England  Lawn  Tennis  Club — he  can  claim'  to  look  at  such  things  as  the 
motor  question  in  a  sporting  spirit,  and.  therefore,  with  consideration  for  his 
fellow-beings  and  for  dumb  animals." — The  Sportsman. 

"  Mr.  Bright  deals  in  a  judicial  and  unbiassed  spirit  with  all  the  main  argu- 
ments regarding  the  motor  question,  and  also  relative  to  motor  buses  v.  tram- 
ways, as  well  as  largely  in  relation  to  tubes,  whilst  treating  his  subject  in  a  re- 
markably lucid  manner." — Sporting  Life. 

"Mr.  Bright  has  given  us  here  a  seasonable  little  volume  consisting  of  lectures 
delivered  before  the  Motor  Car  Act  came  into  operation." — The  Spectator. 

"  There  are  directness  and  force  in  all  Mr.  Bright's  lectures— whether  they  be 
on  telegraphs,  or  on  such  a  question  as  is  contained  in  the  volume  before  us — which 
renders  them  especially  valuable." — Saturday  Review. 

"  The  locomotion  problem  is  the  subject  of  Mr.  Bright's  latest  work.  The 
subject  is  treated  in  his  usual  lucid  manner,  and  those  interested  in  this  much- 

Press  Opinions — continued. 

vexed  question  could  not  do  better  than  consult  its  pages  if  they  wish  to  arrive 
at  a  fair  view." — The  Outlook. 

"  Mr.  Charles  Bright's  republished  lectures  contain  much  useful  information 
regarding  the  subject  they  treat  of." — Truth. 

"  A  thoroughly  able,  impartial,  and  comprehensive  study  of  one  of  the  most 
important  questions  of  the  day  will  be  found  in  these  three  excellent  lectures  by 
the  distinguished  engineer,  Mr.  Charles  Bright." — The  World. 

"  This  little  book,  by  Mr.  Charles  Bright,  is  one  which  every  one  interested  in 
the  great  traffic  question  should  read.  It  deals  with  the  subject  clearly,  concisely 
and  exhaustively,  and  is  the  most  valuable  contribution  to  the  motor-car  con- 
troversy we  have  yet  had." — The  Field. 

"  This  is  a  most  timely  publication  from  the  pen  of  Mr  Charles  Bright,  F.R.S.E. 
Whenever  Mr.  Bright  touches  a  subject  that  comes  within  his  province — and  we 
should  be  loth  to  attempt  to  assign  a  limit  to  his  province — he  leaves  but  little  of 
importance  for  any  one  else  to  say.  Without  being  tedious,  he  gives  a  multi- 
plicity of  detail,  and  yet  all  the  time  keeps  the  broad  features  of  his  topic  well  in 
view.  The  writer  who  can  do  this  is  in  a  fair  way  for  being  worthy  of  the  diploma 
absolute  of  authorship  ;  and  we  imagine  it  would  be  hard  to  find  any  one  who  has 
this  skill  in  greater  fullness  than  Mr.  Charles  Bright." — The  Referee. 

"  Mr.  Charles  Bright  here  discusses  the  menace  of  the  motor  in  a  fair  and 
temperate  spirit  which  should  give  satisfaction  to  both  sides  in  the  controversy." 
— The  Scotsman. 

"  The  writer  is  an  expert  in  the  subject  and  we  have  here  many  shrewd  and 
sensible  comments." — Birmingham  Daily  Post. 

"  Mr.  Charles  Bright  has  many  good  things  to  say  on  the  motor  and  all  the 
questions  that  surround  it." — Western  Mail. 

"  No  one  who  takes  an  interest  in  the  all-important  question  of  road  traction 
can  afford  to  lose  the  advantage  of  reading  anything  that  an  expert  like  Mr. 
Bright  has  to  say  on  such  a  subject." — Liverpool  Journal  of  Commerce. 

"  In  dealing  with  tramways,  Mr.  Bright  enters  a  useful  protest  against  the 
piecemeal  method  which  municipal  pottering  has  imposed  upon  inter-urban 
tramway  development.  There  are  many  other  matters — such  as  railway  and 
tramway  competition  and  the  relation  between  traffic  facilities  and  the  housing 
problem — with  which  Mr.  Bright  deals  in  a  very  suggestive  way.  Any  one  in 
search  of  a  useful  and  simple  survey  of  a  complicated  problem  will  find  this  little 
volume  appropriate  to  his  purpose." — Electrical  Industries. 

"  Mr.  Bright  maintains  that  rapid  locomotion,  though  excellent  in  its  way  as  a 
temporary  palliative  for  present  difficulties,  tends  as  much  towards  centralization 
as  towards  decentralization.  He  is  of  opinion'that  the  real  solution  will  be  found 
in  industrial  redistribution  and  in  the  establishment  of  garden  cities." — Railway 

"  A  most  useful  and  interesting  book  is  constituted  by  Mr.  Charles  Bright's 
reprinted  lectures  on  the  question  of  road  locomotion." — The  Car. 

"  The  lectures  are  admirably  written  and  contain  much  information  relative 
to  the  traffic  problem." — Motoring  Illustrated. 

"  Mr.  Bright  points  out  that  a  large  proportion  of  the  ill-feeling  towards  motorists 
is  engendered  by  men  who  have  never  owned  or  driven  a  horse  themselves,  or  who 
entrust  the  driving  of  their  cars  to  persons  who  have  had  no  experience  of  traffic. 
Another  matter  on  which  Mr.  Bright  touches  is  the  increasing  ineptitude  of  local 
authorities  which,  instead  of  dealing  with  subjects  under  purview  in  a  reason- 
able way,  are  degenerating  into  societies  for  the  Perpetual  Discussion  of  Trifles." 
— Motor  Car  Journal. 

"  There  is  here — as  might  be  expected  in  view  of  the  authorship — an  admixture 
of  humour  and  solid  sense  that  renders  Mr.  Bright's  lectures  decidedly  attractive 
reading." — Automobile  Club  Journal. 




198  Main  Stacks 








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